Comparison of Subaerial and Submarine Mixing and Sediment Transport in Sinuous Channel Bends Using Turbulence-Resolving Numerical Models

Monday, 15 December 2014
Mark Walter Schmeeckle, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, United States
Large eddy simulations (LES) of turbulence and sediment suspension are conducted in both subaerial and submarine meandering channels. The Boussinesq approximation of buoyancy is applied to the spatially-filtered, Navier-Stokes equations through the simultaneous solution of the suspended sediment continuity equation with the Smith-McLean boundary condition. Production of turbulence and, consequently, turbulent kinetic energy is stronger at channel bends than in straight sections. This pattern is more pronounced in subaerial channels. Depth integrated, two-dimensional models of turbidity currents critically rely upon parameterization of the entrainment of water at the top of the flow and sediment exchange with the bed. Secondary flow and turbulence structure due to channel sinuosity significantly alter these parameterizations and the assumed vertical profiles of velocity and sediment concentration. Large turbulent structures episodically inject relatively clear water from the top to the base of the flow at the outside of channel bends, and, simultaneously, sediment laden fluid is ejected from the bed at the inside of channel bends. As a result, sediment deposition in sinuous channels is reduced compared to application of two-dimensional models. The LES turbidity current model is extended to channel morphodynamics by grid adjustment at each fluid and sedment time step. The LES morphodynamic model has been tested, thus far, in strongly depositional sinuous channel turbidity currents. Relatively uniform channel deposition and rapidly developing sharp-crested levees are built in these conditions. Further simulations involving partially erosional conditions and bedload transport will be presented.