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Fluvial evacuation of landslide material from bedrock-confined channels under controlled experimental conditions
journal contributionposted on 27.07.2020 by Edwin Baynes, Charline Bardin, Heide Friedrich
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The supply of sediment from hillslopes to channels is rarely constant, with discrete events (e.g., landslides) known to transfer large volumes of sediment in geologically-short periods of time, especially in tectonically active areas. Understanding the rates and patterns of subsequent sediment evacuation is important for understanding variability of landscape evolution, as well as mitigating the risk of geohazards associated with bed aggradation and the loss of channel capacity to convey flood waters. Here, we performed a series of controlled laboratory flume experiments to explore the controls on sediment transport after a single sediment input in scenarios with (i) different initial input volumes (4–25 kg) under constant flow conditions (40 l/s), (ii) a constant initial input volume (12 kg) under different flow magnitudes (5–60 l/s), and (iii) a repeat of the input sediment volumes in scenario (i) but with the same volume of water delivered using a ramped hydrograph (0–60–0 l/s). We find the presence of sediment piles impacts the flow hydraulics, with a backwater effect developing upstream of the pile that causes a flow acceleration around the location of the pile. For a given discharge, larger sediment piles have a greater impact on the flow hydraulics, which in turn induces higher rates of sediment transport and erosion of the pile. In all cases, sediment remains at the initial pile input location for the duration of the sediment evacuation, acting to protect the bed from erosion. We highlight the role of geomorphic-hydraulic interactions in controlling the sediment evacuation, and suggest there is an optimal combination of pile size and flow conditions (flow magnitude and hydrograph shape) for accelerated rates of sediment transport, which are important for the short-term and long-term channel dynamics and the landscape evolution variability.
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George Mason Centre for the Natural Environment at the University of Auckland
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Geography and Environment