Turbulent flow structure at concordant and discordant open-channel confluences

P. Biron, A. G. Roy, J. L. Best

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Models of flow at river-channel confluences that consist of two concordant confluent channels with avalanche faces dipping into a scour zone are limited because this morphology may be the exception rather than the rule in nature. In this paper the mean and turbulent flow structure in the streamwise and vertical directions at both concordant and discordant laboratory confluences were examined in order to determine the effect of bed discordance on the flow field, and to assess its influence on sediment transport. Instantaneous velocities were measured with a laser Doppler anemometer using a dense spatial sampling grid. The spatial distribution of normal stress varies with bed geometry as bed discordance generates a distortion of the mixing layer between the confluent streams. Turbulent shear stress is larger in the discordant bed case and its peak is associated with the position of the mixing layer whereas for concordant beds the zone of mixing is characterized by a decrease in the Reynolds shear stress. Quadrant analysis also revealed differential dominating quadrants between the two bed geometries which will influence sediment transport routing and, consequently, the resulting bed morphology. These results highlight the need for significant modifications to current models of confluence flow dynamics in order to account for the bed configuration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-446
Number of pages10
JournalExperiments in Fluids
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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