Bed-load Path Length and Point Bar Development in Gravel-bed River Models
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Low-sinuosity meandering gravel-bed flume experiments were employed to investigate spatial patterns of deposition, which point to patterns of channel development related to the pool and bar morphology. At channel-forming discharges, fluorescent bedload tracers indicate that deposition is typically focused around the point bar apex, downstream of the apex (contributing to downstream bar migration), and at the bar head/riffle surface. Seven flume experimental runs illustrate a sequence of point bar development related to the spatial patterns of tracer deposition, and the related path length distribution. At early stages of bar formation, transport is from the scour zone across the point bar head to the bar apex and bar margin downstream of the apex. As the point bar develops, bedload transport across the bar decreases, as transport along the channel thalweg increases and sediment is deposited along the bar margin. Deposition cells appear to move from downstream to upstream of the bar apex as this sequence of bar formation progresses. At low (non-channel-forming) discharges, transport occurs to the bar head/riffle surface with very little material being transported to the apex region or point bar interior. The implication is that there is an inherent connection between the loci of particle deposition and point bar formation, largely controlled by the morphology of the channel.