Flow over gravel beds with clusters

Friday, 19 December 2014
Malcolm Little and Jeremy G Venditti, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
The structure of a gravel bed has been shown to alter the entrainment threshold. Structures such as clusters, reticulate stone cells and other discrete structures lock grains together, making it more difficult for them to be mobilized. These structures also generate form drag, reducing the shear stress available for mobilization. Form drag over gravel beds is often assumed to be negligible, but this assumption is not well supported. Here, we explore how cluster density and arrangement affect flow resistance and the flow structure over a fixed gravel bed in a flume experiment. Cluster density was varied from 6 to 68.3 clusters per square meter which corresponds to areal bed coverages of 2 to 17%. We used regular, irregular and random arrangements of the clusters. Our results show that flow resistance over a planar gravel bed initially declines, then increases with flow depth. The addition of clusters increases flow resistance, but the effect is dependent on cluster density, flow depth and arrangement. At the highest density, clusters can increase flow resistance as by as much as 8 times when compared to flat planar bed with no grain-related form drag. Spatially resolved observations of flow over the clusters indicate that a well-defined wake forms in the lee of each cluster. At low cluster density, the wakes are isolated and weak. As cluster density increases, the wakes become stronger. At the highest density, the wakes interact and the within cluster flow field detaches from the overlying flow. This generates a distinct shear layer at the height of the clusters. In spite of this change in the flow field at high density, our results suggest that flow resistance simply increases with cluster density. Our results suggest that the form drag associated with a gravel bed can be substantial and that it depends on the arrangement of the grains on the bed.