Bedform genesis and evolution in bedrock substrates: a new experimental approach

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Daniel R Parsons1, Nicholas Yin2 and Jeffrey Peakall2, (1)University of Hull, Hull, HU6, United Kingdom, (2)University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
Most previous studies on the genesis and evolution of bedforms have focused on aggradational bedforms within cohesionless sediments, with very few investigations that concern either erosive bedform genesis and evolution or bedrock channel abrasion processes. The study presented here details experiments that involve the genesis and formation of erosional bedform features within natural (soft clay) cohesive sediment beds and analogue bedrock substrates by modelling clay under the effect of both open-channel plain water flows, and sediment-laden flows. A new approach without using plaster-of-Paris or real bedrock developed provides a feasible method to simulate the genesis and evolution of the erosional bedforms in cohesive sediment beds and sculpted forms in bedrock channels on relatively short time-scales in the laboratory by using a realistic substrate substitute.
A series of flume experiments are presented herein where the undrained shear strength of two different kinds of substrate material is systematically varied under constant flow conditions. Experiments using plain water flow indicated that erosive bedforms in cohesive sediment substrate cannot be produced only under the effect of sediment-free flow. Particulate-laden flows do form erosional bedforms in both kinds of clay beds and the shear strength of the bed material plays a key role in determining the diversity of erosional features forming on such substrates. Optimisation of modelling clay beds has enabled us to successfully replicate a suite of bedrock bedforms, including potholes, flutes, longitudinal furrows, etc., that have clear equivalents to those observed in bedrock rivers and contributed to investigate the genesis and evolution process of them and explore the flow structures within and above them in experimental analogue bedrock substrate for the first time.