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The role of bed shear stress in sediment sorting patterns in a reconstructed, gravel bed river

<p> The role of bed shear stress in bed surface grain size sorting was investigated on a reconstructed reach of the Merced River in the Central Valley of California. Pebble count data were collected at the inside, middle, and outside of ten bends in April 2015 and compared to data from pebble counts conducted in previous years. Output from a previously developed 2D flow model (FaSTMECH) was compared to critical shear stresses calculated from median grain-size data. Comparison of pebble count results from 2002 through 2015 showed that there was no temporally consistent pattern of coarsening or fining along the study reach; however, the bed surface coarsened between 2002 and 2015. Pebble count data from April 2015 revealed a distinct spatial distribution of grain sizes with a larger median grain size (D<sub>50</sub>) at the outside of bends and a smaller D<sub>50</sub> at the inside of bends. Regression analyses performed on pebble count data from point bars revealed statistically significant downstream changes in surface grain size on two of the seven bars. Analysis of shear stress data showed a weak relationship between the modeled bed shear stress (&tau;<sub>b</sub>) and the calculated critical shear stress (&tau;<sub>cr </sub>). The weak relationship between &tau;<sub>b</sub> and &tau;<sub>cr </sub> indicated that bed shear stress was not solely responsible for the grain size sorting in the study reach. It is likely that the observed grain size sorting patterns resulted from helical secondary flows at the bends. </p>
Date20 August 2016
CreatorsEmerson, Samuel D.
PublisherSan Jose State University
Detected LanguageEnglish

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