Water Resources Research
The transported load in most fluvial systems, including gravel-bedded rivers, includes fine-grained sediment. Models for suspended sediment transport have focused on sand-covered beds, rendering incomplete the theoretical and empirical framework for predicting fine sediment transport and routing. We conducted laboratory experiments involving sand transport over large immobile grains. The experiments were scaled such that immobile particles were much larger than the mobile sediment, but less than 10% of flow depth, and that bed shear stresses, scaled by the size of the mobile sediment, were indicative of transport in suspension. The experiments were conducted in equilibrium transport and included measurements of near-bed sediment concentration and interstitial sand storage for a range of flow and transport rates. Partial filling of grain interstices occurred over a narrow range of flow and transport rates, indicating a sharp threshold between no interstitial sand storage and a sand-covered bed. Less sand coverage on the bed resulted in higher near-bed sand concentrations per unit area of sand than runs with greater sand coverage. As sand bed elevation decreased relative to the coarse grains, turbulent wakes shed by the large grains appeared to enhance grain entrainment more than the corresponding decrease in bed area covered by sand resulted in decreased entrainment. Elevated concentrations were maintained until the bed was depleted of fine sediment. These results are formalized in a proposed sand elevation correction function that scales the entrainment rate for a bed partially covered by sand to the entrainment rate that would be predicted for a sand-covered bed.
Grams, P.E., and P.R. Wilcock, 2007, Equilibrium entrainment of fine sediment over a coarse immobile bed, Water Resources Research, 43, W10420, doi:10.1029/2006WR005129.