Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Sediment Pulse Behavior in Gravel-bedded Rivers

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  • As dams approach the end of their useful life, there is need to predict where and how accumulated sediment will move following their removal to estimate impacts on aquatic habitat and infrastructure. Flume studies suggest that sediment pulses disperse in place for most dams, but it is hypothesized that a low Froude number and relatively fine pulse grain size may characterize pulses that translate downstream. However, quantitative analyses of sediment pulse behavior have not been widely conducted in field settings. This research seeks to evaluate flume-derived hypotheses in field settings by 1) investigating whether dispersion or translation dominates pulse behavior observed in the field across a range of dam removal physiographies; and 2) evaluating whether Froude number, pulse material grain size, pulse size, and discharge can explain pulse behavior. Based on results from flume experiments, translation is hypothesized to dominate pulse behavior in cases of low Froude number, fine pulse material, small pulse size, and large peak discharge. We evaluate the ability to explain pulse behavior by Froude number, grain size, pulse size, and discharge by comparing quantified predictors to visual and quantitative measurements of sediment movement at four field sites. Changes in pulse volume are calculated from bathymetry data and provide evidence of translational movement at all four sites. The results observe that dispersion dominates pulse behavior except when the site is characterized by a Froude number less than or equal to 0.4, and document a connection between translational behavior and wet water years.
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