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Marginal bed load transport in a gravel bed stream, Sagehen Creek, California

July 1, 1994

Marginal bed load transport describes the condition when relatively few bed particles are moving at any time. Bed particles resting in the shallowest bed pockets will move when the dimensionless shear stress т* exceeds a value of about 0.020. As т* increases, the number of bed particles moving increases. Significant motion of bed particles, i.e., when a substantial fraction of the bed particles are moving, occurs when т* exceeds a value of about 0.060. Thus marginal bed load transport occurs over the domain 0.020 < т* < 0.060. Marginal bed load transport rates and associated hydraulic characteristics of Sagehen Creek, a small mountain gravel bed stream, were measured on 55 days at discharges ranging from slightly less than one half of the bank-full discharge to more than 4 times the bank-full discharge. Dimensionless shear stress varied from 0.032 to 0.042, and bed particles as large as the 80th percentile of the bed surface were transported. The relation between reference dimensionless shear stress and relative particle protrusion for Sagehen Creek was determined by varying т*ri to obtain the best fit of the Parker bed load function to the measured transport rates. During the period of record (water years 1954–1991), the mean annual quantity of bed load transported past the Sagehen Creek gage was 24.7 tons. Forty-seven percent of all bed load transported during the 38 years of record occurred in just 6 years. During 10 of the 38 years of record, essentially no bed load was transported. The median diameter of bed load was 26 mm, compared to 58 mm in the surface bed material.

Publication Year 1994
Title Marginal bed load transport in a gravel bed stream, Sagehen Creek, California
DOI 10.1029/94WR00553
Authors E.D. Andrews
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Water Resources Research
Index ID 70186200
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse