Effects of sand content on initial gravel motion in gravel-bed rivers

Hiroshi Miwa, Gary Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When fine sediments are present in gravel streambeds (gravel-framework beds), the gravel can be more easily removed from its original position, compared with gravel in a streambed without fine sediment but otherwise under the same hydraulic conditions. In this study, the effect of the presence of sand on the initiation of gravel motion in gravel riverbeds was investigated using flume experiments. The relationship between the critical Shields stress for gravel motion initiation and the fraction of sand in the bed was determined experimentally. The results can be summarized as follows. (1) When the fraction of sand in the bed is smaller than about 0.4, the critical Shields stress for the initiation of gravel motion decreases with increasing fraction of sand. The critical Shields stress increases, however, with increasing fraction of sand when it is larger than about 0.4. (2) The difference between the value of the critical Shields stress predicted by the Egiazaroff equation and the value obtained from the experimental data becomes maximum at about 0.4 of the fraction of sand. Here an empirical relation between the critical Shields stress and the fraction of sand is proposed so as to consider the effects of the ratio of the characteristic gravel size to the mean size of the bed material on the critical Shields stress. (3) Gravel in armored beds can be more easily mobilized by supplying sand as part of a sediment augmentation scheme. The sand fraction in the subsurface layer of the bed appears to reduce the friction angle of exposed particles. Sediment augmentation using sand has been recently demonstrated to be a viable alternative for mobilizing gravel for the restoration of gravel-bed rivers downstream of dams. The quantitative evaluation obtained through the experiments reported here may be useful for the design of augmentation schemes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1355-1364
Number of pages10
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • armoring
  • critical Shields stress
  • gravel bed
  • initial motion
  • sand and gravel
  • sediment augmentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of sand content on initial gravel motion in gravel-bed rivers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this