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Experimental study of segregation mechanisms in bedload sediment transport Dudill, Ashley Rebecca


This research focuses upon size segregation mechanisms in riverine bedload sediment transport. Simplified experiments with fine grain inputs to a mobile coarse bed in equilibrium were undertaken in a small, narrow flume using spherical glass beads. The experiments demonstrate the influence of the size ratio between the bed (Dc) and the input (Df) upon the channel response. Size ratios (Dc/Df) between 7.14 and 1.25 were tested, with a constant coarse feed rate, and a variety of fine feed rates. Previous work has documented an increase in sediment transport rates as a result of a fine grain input; the experiments presented herein identify boundaries within this behaviour. Kinetic sieving takes place in the mobile bed surface, with the finer sediment moving to the bottom of the bedload transport layer at the interface to the underlying quasi-static coarse bed. The behavior at this interface dictates how a channel responds to a fine sediment input. If, by spontaneous percolation, the fine sediment is able to infiltrate into the underlying quasi-static bed, the total transport increases and the bed degrades causing a reduction in the slope. However, if the fine sediment input rate exceeds the transport capacity or is geometrically unable to infiltrate into the underlying bed, it forms a quasi-static layer underneath the transport layer that inhibits entrainment from the underlying bed, resulting in aggradation and an increase in bed slope. A formal test of the reproducibility of the aforementioned results was undertaken in a different laboratory, with the same experimental procedure. Comparison of the qualitative results reveals that the same dominant processes occur. Consistent differences, however, were present between the quantitative results; likely a result of differences in the experimental arrangement. A final set of experiments assesses the differences and similarities between experiments undertaken with spherical glass beads and with natural materials to examine the complexities introduced due to particle shape. While the experiments with ideal materials reveal fundamental mechanisms associated with granular transport of mixed sizes, several key new phenomena are apparent in the experiments with natural materials, including changes in the infiltration potential and the emergence of bed structures. Supplementary materials : http://hdl.handle.net/2429/59561 ; http://hdl.handle.net/2429/54751

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