Field and flume investigations of the effects of logjams and woody debris on streambed morphology

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Vivian Leung1, David R Montgomery1 and Michael L McHenry2, (1)University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States, (2)Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Port Angeles, WA, United States
Interactions among wood debris, fluid flow and sediment transport in rivers are first-order controls on channel morphodynamics, affecting streambed morphology, sediment transport, sediment storage and aquatic habitat. Woody debris increases the hydraulic and topographic complexity in rivers, leading to a greater diversity of aquatic habitats and an increase in the number of large pools that are important fish habitat and breeding grounds. In the past decade, engineered logjams have become an increasingly used tool in river management for simultaneously decreasing the rate of riverbank migration and improving aquatic habitat. Sediment deposits around woody debris build up riverbanks and counteract bank migration caused by erosion. Previous experiments on flow visualization around model woody debris suggest the amount of sediment scour and deposition are primarily related to the presence of roots and the obstructional area of the woody debris. We present the results of fieldwork and sediment transport experiments of streambed morphology around stationary woody debris. Field surveys on the Hoh River and the Elwha River, WA, measure the local streambed morphology around logjams and individual pieces of woody debris. We quantified the amount of local scour and dam-removal related fine sediment deposition around natural and engineered logjams of varying sizes and construction styles, located in different geomorphic settings. We also quantified the amount of local scour around individual pieces of woody debris of varying sizes, geometries and orientations relative to flow. The flume experiments tested the effects of root geometry and log orientation of individual stationary trees on streambed morphology. The flume contained a deformable sediment bed of medium sand. We find that: 1) the presence of roots on woody debris leads to greater areas of both sediment scour and deposition; and 2) the amount of sediment scour and deposition are related to the wood debris cross-sectional area, oriented orthogonal to flow. A better understanding of the underlying sediment physics and hydraulics around naturally occurring woody debris in rivers can provide guidance and criteria for use in river restoration and engineering as well as scientific insights into a complex interdisciplinary problem.