The impact of intermittency on bed load sediment transport

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Santiago J. Benavides , Eric Deal , Matthew Rushlow, Jeremy G. Venditti , Qiong Zhang, Ken Kamrin, J. Taylor Perron 


Sediment transport by wind or water near the threshold of grain motion is dominated by rare transport events. This intermittency makes it difficult to calibrate sediment transport laws, or to define an unambiguous threshold for grain entrainment, both of which are crucial for predicting sediment transport rates. We present a model that captures this intermittency and show that the noisy statistics of sediment transport contain useful information about the sediment entrainment threshold and the variations in driving fluid stress. Using a combination of laboratory experiments and analytical results, we measure the threshold for grain entrainment in a novel way and introduce a new property, the ``bed sensitivity'', which predicts conditions under which transport will be intermittent. Our work suggests strategies for improving measurements and predictions of sediment flux and hints that the sediment transport law may change close to the threshold of motion.



Dynamical Systems, Geomorphology, Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics


sediment transport, intermittency, stochastic, bed load, on-off intermittency, flume experiment


Published: 2021-02-09 04:29

Last Updated: 2021-09-17 17:52

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):
The raw data is very large (a few TB) and we are working on a way to host it. Otherwise, the time-series will become available in the near future. If anybody requests the data, we will happily share it personally.

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