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Laboratory rivers adjust their shape to sediment transport

Abstract : An alluvial river builds its own bed with the sediment it transports; its shape thus depends not only on its water discharge, but also on the sediment supply. Here, we investigate the influence of the latter in laboratory experiments. We find that, as their natural counterpart, laboratory rivers widen to accommodate an increase of sediment supply. By tracking individual particles as they travel downstream, we show that, at equilibrium, the river shapes its channel so that the intensity of sediment transport follows a Boltzmann distribution. This mechanism selects a well-defined width over which the river transports sediment, while the sediment remains virtually idle on its banks. For lack of a comprehensive theory, we represent this behaviour with a single-parameter, empirical model which accords with our observations.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02987014
Contributor : Anaïs Abramian <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - 2:37:57 PM
Last modification on : Monday, December 14, 2020 - 9:47:01 AM

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A. Abramian, O Devauchelle, E. Lajeunesse. Laboratory rivers adjust their shape to sediment transport. Physical Review E , American Physical Society (APS), 2020, 102 (5), ⟨10.1103/PhysRevE.102.053101⟩. ⟨hal-02987014⟩

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