EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A Precipiton-Based Approach for Multi Grain-Size Transport Models

Marine Le Minor1, Philippe Davy1, Jamie Howarth2, and Dimitri Lague1
Marine Le Minor et al.
  • 1Univ Rennes, CNRS, Géosciences Rennes, UMR 6118, Rennes, France (
  • 2School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Multi grain-size transport models that simulate transport of various grain sizes along with the bed stratigraphy consider that only the sediment present in an active layer at the top of the substratum participates in sediment transport. The thickness of this well-mixed layer may be fixed but also calculated according to the coarsest grain size it contains or to the shear stress applied at the surface of the substratum. However, this approach puts the emphasis on the conservation of the active layer thickness and on the availability of the various sizes within this layer. This means there is little consideration i) for heterogeneity in grain size distribution when mixing together adjacent stratigraphic layers that differ significantly in composition and ii) for grain sizes that could prevent or slow down removal of the others. To cope with these limitations, we developed an algorithm with the ability to capture the transport of heterogeneous sediments and the related stratigraphic record of erosional and depositional events based on the behavior of the various sizes within the bed layers. We built a multi grain-size module based on the precipiton method: the time spent by a precipiton (volume of water that carries sediment) on a pixel determines the grain-size specific magnitude of deposition and erosion. The newness of our work is that the magnitudes of erosion may be corrected according to the sizes that slow down the erosion of the others (zero or slow erosion rate) and stratigraphic layers with similar composition only may be merged. A few tests were conducted to study the morphological evolution of a 1D-river reach under various conditions (water discharge, sediment source, etc.). A lake was added at the end of the reach to record the various sizes existing the reach over time. At low water discharge when only the threshold of fine grains is exceeded, an armoring layer made of coarse grains develop at the surface of the substrate. At a water discharge when all the grains are in motion, the finer the grains are, the further downstream they are transported. This downstream fining pattern may be associated with changes in the concavity of the river profile. This multi grain-size algorithm not restricted to the precipiton approach has the potential to unravel the role of heterogeneous sediments in the formation of sorting patterns and, therefore, it is to be implemented in the landscape evolution model RiverLab (former Eros). 

How to cite: Le Minor, M., Davy, P., Howarth, J., and Lague, D.: A Precipiton-Based Approach for Multi Grain-Size Transport Models, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-15456,, 2023.