Author(s): Blaise Dhont; Christophe Ancey; Patricio Bohorquez
Linked Author(s): Christophe Ancey
Keywords: No Keywords
Abstract: Mountain rivers exhibit sediment transport rate fluctuations that often cover more than two orders of magnitude. Bedform migration is often cited as the key process that causes giant fluctuations in the sediment transport rate. To quantify the effect of bedform migration on transport rate, we ran laboratory experiments in a 19-m long 60-cm wide flume with well-sorted gravel bed. At the flume inlet, the water discharge and the particle flux were kept constant. Experiments were conducted over long times (typically> 500 h). Sediment transport rate was monitored at the flume outlet using accelerometers. Bed topography was scanned at high spatial resolution using a laser sheet. Water depth was measured using ultrasonic probes mounted on an automated rolling carriage. We observed that, under steady state experimental conditions, bed morphology played a key part in the generation of bedload transport fluctuations. The bars migrated downstream intermittently, producing the most important pulses. When the bar position was stable for a few hours, additional pulses resulted from sediment transfer from pool to pool, in the form of sediment waves (bedload sheets). Thus, in our experiments, alternate bars formed a two-entity system (bar+pool) with two distinctive functions: the bars contributed to fix and stabilize the bed whereas the pools were the preferential zones of short-term storage and transfer of sediment.