Fine particles may infiltrate through coarse alluvial beds and eventually saturate the subsurface pore space. It is essential to understand the conditions that lead to bed saturation, and to forecast the packing characteristics of saturated beds to assess the effect of excess fine sediment supply on a number of processes that occur in the stream-sediment boundary. To address this problem, in this study, a new method is introduced to predict the grain-size distribution for the saturated condition, and the resulting porosity decrease, given the characteristics of the bed and the supplied sediments. The new method consists of the numerical aggregation of infilling fines in a finite bed volume, during which the bed properties change to affect further infilling. An existing semi-empirical, particle packing model is implemented to identify these properties. It is shown that these types of models are adequate to describe regimes of natural sediment fabric quantitatively, and are thus useful tools in the analysis of sediment infiltration processes. Unlike previous developments to quantify saturated bed conditions, which assume that the supplied material is uniform and finer than the bed pore openings, the method developed herein considers poorly sorted fines, and can identify size fractions that are able to ingress into the bed due to being smaller than the particles that form the bed structure. Application of the new method to published experimental data showed that the final content of infiltrated fines is strongly sensitive to the initial bed packing density, highlighting the need to measure and understand open-work gravel deposits. In addition, the new method was shown to be suitable for assessing the degree of bed saturation, when it was applied to a published data set of field samples.
This is the accepted version of the following article: [Núñez-González, F., Martín-Vide, J. P., Kleinhans, M. G. (2016), Porosity and size gradation of saturated gravel with percolated fines. Sedimentology, 63: 1209–1232. doi: 10.1111/sed.12257], which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/sed.12257/abstract
This paper presents the results of a Gilbert-type delta progradation experiment within an impoundment created by a dam. The delta was composed of a poorly sorted sand-gravel mixture in a bedload-dominated environment. The main goal of the paper is to analyse the sorting process of material within the deposit as the delta progrades towards the dam. Bed profile evolution has been documented and the entire delta has been extensively sampled in order to study sorting processes. Longitudinal and vertical sorting mechanisms are illustrated. What is novel in this investigation is the complete record, within an entire deltaic deposit, of the vertical distribution of streamwise sorting in the absence of suspended load. The data presented herein provide a detailed description of sorting processes in a Gilbert-type delta. The experimental set-up, the water flow and the sediment feed rate chosen determine the evolution of the delta: it initially progrades with little topset aggradation and degrades afterwards. Experimental results fit well with a previously presented empirical sorting model, despite the fact that the experimental conditions used here were well outside the range of those used to derive that model. The relative coarsening of the upper layers of the delta is found to be related to the slow speed at which the delta progrades, the formation of a mobile armour layer and the erosion of the topset towards the end of the run. Furthermore, a strong correlation between the coarsening of the bottom layer of the delta and its front height has been documented and explained: as the delta gets higher, as there is more space to sort sediment, it is more likely that coarse particles failing near the top of the foreset reach the bottom of the foreset. These findings provide new and useful data documenting sediment sorting in granular, bedload-dominated deltas.