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Suspended Sediment-Induced Stratification Inferred From Concentration and Velocity Profile Measurements in the Lower Yellow River, China

Moodie, Andrew J. and Nittrouer, Jeffrey A. and Ma, Hongbo and Carlson, Brandee N. and Wang, Yuanjian and Lamb, Michael P. and Parker, Gary (2022) Suspended Sediment-Induced Stratification Inferred From Concentration and Velocity Profile Measurements in the Lower Yellow River, China. Water Resources Research, 58 (5). Art. No. e2020WR027192. ISSN 0043-1397. doi:10.1029/2020wr027192.

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Despite a multitude of models predicting sediment transport dynamics in open-channel flow, self-organized vertical density stratification that dampens flow turbulence due to the interaction between fluid and sediment has not been robustly validated with field observations from natural rivers. Turbulence-suppressing density stratification can develop in channels with low channel-bed slope and high sediment concentration. As the Yellow River, China, maintains one of the highest sediment loads in the world for a low sloping system, this location is ideal for documenting particle and fluid interactions that give rise to density stratification. Herein, we present analyses from a study conducted over a range of discharge conditions (e.g., low flow, rising limb, and flood peak) from a lower reach of the Yellow River, whereby water samples were collected at targeted depths to measure sediment concentration and, simultaneously, velocity measurements were collected throughout the flow depth. Importantly, sediment concentration varied by an order of magnitude between base and flood flows. By comparing measured concentration and velocity profiles to predictive models, we show that the magnitude of density stratification increases with sediment concentration. Furthermore, a steady-state calculation of sediment suspension is used to determine that sediment diffusivity increases with grain size. Finally, we calculate concentration and velocity profiles, showing that steady-state sediment suspensions are reliably predicted over a range of stratification conditions larger than had been previously documented in natural river flows. We determine that the magnitude of density stratification can be predicted by a function considering an entrainment parameter, sediment concentration, and bed slope.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Information ItemData ItemProcessing scripts
Moodie, Andrew J.0000-0002-6745-036X
Nittrouer, Jeffrey A.0000-0002-4762-0157
Ma, Hongbo0000-0002-6017-8113
Carlson, Brandee N.0000-0002-5369-9746
Wang, Yuanjian0000-0003-0831-4293
Lamb, Michael P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Parker, Gary0000-0001-5973-5296
Additional Information:© 2020 American Geophysical Union. Issue Online: 09 May 2022; Version of Record online: 09 May 2022; Accepted manuscript online: 14 October 2020; Manuscript accepted: 06 October 2020; Manuscript revised: 01 October 2020; Manuscript received: 21 January 2020. A. J. M., J. A. N., H. M., B. N. C., M. P. L., and G. P. acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) EAR-1427262 Coastal SEES grant. A. J. M. was supported by a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. 1842494 and a Geological Society of America Student Research grant. We are grateful to Kyle Strom and anonymous reviewers who contributed to improving the quality and clarity of this manuscript. Data Availability Statement: The data, and processing and analysis code, are made available online. Processed and raw data sets can be found at Zenodo ( The processing scripts and plotting can be found at under Moodie_densitystratification.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipDGE-1842494
Geological Society of AmericaUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:sediment transport; density stratification; sediment diffusivity; entrainment
Issue or Number:5
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201015-152734444
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Official Citation:Moodie, A. J., Nittrouer, J. A., Ma, H., Carlson, B. N., Wang, Y., Lamb, M. P., & Parker, G. (2022). Suspended sediment-induced stratification inferred from concentration and velocity profile measurements in the lower Yellow River, China. Water Resources Research, 58, e2020WR027192.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106102
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:16 Oct 2020 15:47
Last Modified:16 May 2022 18:28

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