Grain sorting processes in bed load transport : A theoretical and experimental study for gravel bed rivers

Abstract : Field and laboratory investigations indicate that gravel bed rivers with poorly-sorted grain size distribution and low lateral confinement, such as in the case of multi-thread, braided and transitional rivers but also wandering single-thread rivers, can simultaneously present active channel variations, both in the planimetric and altimetric directions, together with planimetric and vertical sorting.Actually channel adjustments present a complex interaction with sorting processes. transport and depositional processes of heterogeneous sediment mixtures induce the formation of various sorting patterns, among which free migrating patches such as sorting waves also known as bedload sheets. Such sorting waves are mainly observed by the alternation of bands of finer and coarser material in the streamwise direction.This PhD research investigates the sorting processes of a bimodal grain size distribution both in the lateral and in the vertical direction, with particular focus on the study of bedload sheets.The main aim of this work is to investigate the effects of lateral confinement on river bed morphodynamics and in particular on grain sorting processes; and besides, given that grain sorting plays a crucial role in affecting longitudinal river profile, as well as sediment patterns and bed forms, being indeed the connection between bed topography and bed sediment composition close, we would like to provide simple theoretical analyses and tools able to predict morphodynamic bed river variations driven by sortingDifferent methodologies are applied to successfully achieve this purpose.Firstly, a deep investigation of the state of knowledge of mixed-size sediment morphodynamics, sorting processes, sorted sediment patterns and bedload sheets is carried out.Then, a 1D linear stability analysis of a uniform flow above an erodible bed composed by a bimodal mixture of sediments is performed and investigation of the associated eigenvectors, amplitude of perturbations and migrations rate is discussed. Results are presented in terms of arising instabilities dominated by sorting. Although the monodimensional shallow-water framework, the simple flow model adopted allows for the formulation of an algebraic eigenvalue problem that can be solved analytically, allowing for a deep insight into the mechanisms that drive instabilities.Then, small scale flume experiments are carried out by reproducing three different flow confinement configurations and involving a bimodal mixture of natural sediments. All the configurations show large fluctuations of parameters characterising bed system in terms of bed sediment composition, slope, active channel width and sediment transport rate. The analysis of such parameters allows defining feedbacks among morphological variables. Results of such investigations shed light on the role of lateral confinement on sorting processes and morphodynamics of barebed rivers.
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Costanza Carbonari. Grain sorting processes in bed load transport : A theoretical and experimental study for gravel bed rivers. Hydrology. Université Grenoble Alpes; Università degli studi (Florence, Italie), 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019GREAU009⟩. ⟨tel-02283323⟩

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