The dominance of dispersion in the evolution of bed material waves in gravel-bed rivers

Thomas E. Lisle, Yantao Cui, Gary Parker, James E. Pizzuto, Annjanette M. Dodd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bed material waves are temporary zones of sediment accumulation created by large sediment inputs. Recent theoretical, experimental and field studies examine factors influencing dispersion and translation of bed material waves in quasi-uniform, gravel-bed channels. Exchanges of sediment between a channel and its floodplain are neglected. Within these constraints, two factors influence relative rates of dispersion and translation: (1) interactions between wave topography, flow and bed load transport; and (2) particle-size differences between wave material and original bed material. Our results indicate that dispersion dominates the evolution of bed material waves in gravel-bed channels. Significant translation requires a low Froude number, which is uncharacteristic of gravel-bed channels, and low wave amplitude which, for a large wave, can be achieved only after substantial dispersion. Wave material of small particle size can promote translation, but it primarily increases bed load transport rate and thereby accelerates wave evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1409-1420
Number of pages12
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number13
StatePublished - Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Bed load
  • Bed material waves
  • Gravel-bed rivers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'The dominance of dispersion in the evolution of bed material waves in gravel-bed rivers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this