Evolution of Fine-Grained Channel Margin Deposits behind Large Woody Debris in an Experimental Gravel-Bed Flume

Monday, 15 December 2014
Bridget ONeill, University of Delaware, Geological Sciences, Newark, DE, United States, Samuel Marks, Bates College, Lewiston, ME, United States, Katherine Skalak, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, United States, Jack Anthony Puleo, Univ of DE-Civil & Envir Engrg, Newark, DE, United States, Peter R Wilcock, Utah State University, Logan, UT, United States and James Eugene Pizzuto, Univ Delaware, Newark, DE, United States
Fine grained channel margin (FGCM) deposits of the South River, Virginia sequester a substantial volume of fine-grained sediment behind large woody debris (LWD). FGCM deposits were created in a laboratory setting meant to simulate the South River environment using a recirculating flume (15m long by 0.6m wide) with a fixed gravel bed and adjustable slope (set to 0.0067) to determine how fine sediment is transported and deposited behind LWD. Two model LWD structures were placed 3.7 m apart on opposite sides of the flume. A wire mesh screen with attached wooden dowels simulated LWD with an upstream facing rootwad. Six experiments with three different discharge rates, each with low and high sediment concentrations, were run. Suspended sediment was very fine grained (median grain size of 3 phi) and well sorted (0.45 phi) sand. Upstream of the wood, water depths averaged about 0.08m, velocities averaged about 0.3 m/s, and Froude numbers averaged around 0.3. Downstream of the first LWD structure, velocities were reduced tenfold. Small amounts of sediment passed through the rootwad and fell out of suspension in the area of reduced flow behind LWD, but most of the sediment was carried around the LWD by the main flow and then behind the LWD by a recirculating eddy current. Upstream migrating dunes formed behind LWD due to recirculating flow, similar to reattachment bars documented in bedrock canyon rivers partially obstructed by debouching debris fans. These upstream migrating dunes began at the reattachment point and merged with deposits formed from sediment transported through the rootwad. Downstream migrating dunes formed along the channel margin behind the LWD, downstream of the reattachment point. FGCM deposits were about 3 m long, with average widths of about 0.8 m. Greater sediment concentration created thicker FGCM deposits, and higher flows eroded the sides of the deposits, reducing their widths.