Sediment Transport

Sediment transport is essentially a two-phase flow problem in which the fluid phase is air or water and the solid phase is sediment particle. The processes of erosion, transport, and deposition of sediment, collectively termed as sedimentation, are natural processes and have been occurring throughout the geologic time. The landscape as well as the continental margin that includes the shelf, slope and canyons are continuously shaped by the process of sedimentation. Sediment transport occurs due to water, wind, and gravity. Interest in sediment transport stems from practical engineering importance of flood control, erosion control, and river basin management as well as economic interest associated with the extraction of petroleum and other mineral resources. The study of the movement of sediment particles under the influence of gravity and fluid drag constitutes a fascinating field. Let us treat river as a container. The typical container of fluid-sediment mixture, i.e. river, is constructed and deformed by its own content. Depending on the flow conditions and sediment size distribution, bedforms of various scale and shape can appear. These bedforms cause extra resistance to the flow and thus can alter the flow depth significantly.

In this chapter, focus primarily is given to sediment transport in rivers. The most common modes of sediment transport in rivers are bedload and suspended load. As bedload, sediment particles saltate, roll, and slide, but always staying close to the bed. As suspend load, sediment is carried by the fluid turbulence up in the water column. In the case of river, the volume concentration of solids in the water column tends to be rather dilute even during large floods. It is, therefore, possible to treat the sediment and fluid phase separately. It will take an entire text book to cover various aspects of sediment transport. Here, the following important topics are presented in a condensed form: sediment property, sand-bed and gravel-bed rivers, threshold conditions for sediment movement and significant suspension, Shields diagram, sediment mass conservation in the river bed, resistance relations, and transport of sediment as bedload and suspended load.


Sediment Transport Suspended Load Entrainment Rate Bedload Transport Sediment Size 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ashida, K. and M. Michiue, 1972, “Study on hydraulic resistance and bedload transport raten alluvial streams.” Transactions, Japan Society of Civil En-gineering, 206: 59-69 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  2. Bagnold, R. A., 1966, “An approach to the sediment transport problem from general physics.” US Geol. Survey Prof. Paper 422-I, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  3. Brownlie, W. R., 1981, “Prediction of flow depth and sediment discharge in open channels.” Report No. KH-R-43A, W. M. Keck Laboratory of Hydraulics and Water Resources, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA, 232 p.Google Scholar
  4. Buffington, J. M., 1999,“The Legend of A. F. Shields.” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, Vol.125, No.4, April1999, pp.376-387, (doi 10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9429(1999)125:4(376))CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cui, Y., Parker, G. and C. Paola, 1996, “Numerical simulation of aggradation and downstream fining.” J. Hydraul. Res., 34, 185-203, 1996.Google Scholar
  6. Dietrich, E. W., 1982, “Settling velocity of natural particles.” Water Resources Research 18 (6), 1626-1982.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Egiazaroff, I. V., 1965, “Calculation of nonuniform sediment concentrations.” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 91(4), 225-247.Google Scholar
  8. Elhakeem, M., 2004, “A probabilistic approach to the modeling of entrainment, deposition and transport of bed load sediment.” PhD Thesis, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA.Google Scholar
  9. Einstein, H. A., 1950, “The Bed-load Function for Sediment Transportation in Open Channel Flows.” Technical Bulletin 1026, U.S. Dept. of the Army, Soil Conservation Service.Google Scholar
  10. Einstein H. A., and Barbarossa, N. L., 1952, “River Channel Roughness.” Jour-nal of Hydraulic Engineering, 117.Google Scholar
  11. Engelund, F. and Hansen, E., 1967, “Hydraulic resistance in alluvial streams.” Acta Polytechnica Scandanavica, V. Ci-35.Google Scholar
  12. Engelund, F. and J. Fredsoe, 1976, “A sediment transport model for straight alluvial channels.” Nordic Hydrology, 7 293-306.Google Scholar
  13. Exner, F. M., 1920, “Zur Physik der Dunen.” Sitzber Akad. Wiss Wien, Part IIa, Bd. 129 (in German).Google Scholar
  14. Exner, F. M., 1925, “Uber die Wechselwirkung zwischen Wasser und Geschiebe in Flussen.” Sitzber. Akad. Wiss Wien, Part IIa, Bd. 134 (in German).Google Scholar
  15. García, M. and G. Parker, 1991, “Entrainment of bed sediment into suspension.” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 117(4): 414-435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hirano, M., 1971, “On riverbed variation with armoring.” Proceedings, Japan Society of Civil Engineering, 195: 55-65 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  17. Keulegan, G. H., 1938, “Laws of turbulent flow in open channels.” National Bureau of Standards Research Paper RP 1151, USA.Google Scholar
  18. Meyer-Peter, E. and Mller, R., 1948, “Formulas for Bed-Load Transport.” Pro-ceedings, 2nd Congress, International Association of Hydraulic Research, Stockholm: 39-64.Google Scholar
  19. Parker, G., 1979, “Hydraulic geometry of active gravel rivers.” Journal of Hy-draulic Engineering, 105(9), 1185 1201.Google Scholar
  20. Parker, G., 1982, “Conditions for the ignition of catas trophically erosive turbidity currents.” Mar. Geol. 46:307-27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Parker, G., and Andrews, ED., 1985, “Sorting of Bed Load Sediment by Flow in Meander Bends.” Water Resources Research WRERAO Vol. 21, No. 9, p 1361-1373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Parker, G., Fukushima, Y., and Pantin, H. M., 1986, “Self-accelerating turbidity currents.” J. Fluid Mechanics, 171, 145-181.MATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Parker, G., 1990a, “Surface-based bedload transport relation for gravel rivers.” Journal of Hydraulic Research, 28(4): 417-436.Google Scholar
  24. Parker, G., 1990b, “The ACRONYM Series of PASCAL Programs for Comput-ing Bedloadransport in Gravel Rivers.” External Memorandum M-200, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA.Google Scholar
  25. Parker, G., and Sutherland, A. J., 1990, “Fluvial Armor.” J. Hydraul. Res., 28(5),529-544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Parker, G., 1991, “Selective sorting and abrasion of river gravel. I: Theory and II: Applications .” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 117(2): 131-171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Parker, G., C. Paola, and Leclair, S., 2000, “Probabilistic form of Exner equa-tionof sediment continuity for mixtures with no active layer.” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 126(11): 818-826.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Parker, G., Carlos M. Toro-Escobar, Michael Ramey, and Stuart Beck, 2003, “Effect of Floodwater Extraction on Mountain Stream Morphology.” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, Vol. 129, No. 11, pp. 885-895 , (doi 10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9429(2003)129:11(885))CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Parker, G., 2007, “Sedimentation Engineering.” ASCE Manual 54, Chapter 3 (in press).Google Scholar
  30. Powell, D. M., 1998, “Patterns and Processes of Sediment Sorting in Gravel-Bed Rivers.” Progress in Physical Geography, Vol. 22, No. 1, 1-32.MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  31. Powell, D. M., Reid, I. and Laronne, J. B. 2001, “Evolution of bedload grain-size distributionith increasing flow strength and the effect of flow duration on the caliber of bedloadsediment yield in ephemeral gravel-bed rivers.” Water Resources Research, 37(5), 1463-1474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rouse, H., 1939, “Experiments on the mechanics of sediment suspension.” Proceedings 5th International Congress on Applied Mechanics, Cambridge, Mass., 550-554.Google Scholar
  33. Sekine M. and Parker, G., 1992, “Bed-Load Transport on Transverse Slope. I.” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, Vol. 118, No. 4, pp. 513-535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Shields, A., 1936a, “Anwendung der Aehnlichkeitsmechanik und der Turbulenz-forschung auf die Geschiebebewegung.” Doktor-Ingenieurs dissertation Technischen Hochschule, Berlin (in German).Google Scholar
  35. Shields, A., 1936b, “Anwendung der Aehnlichkeitsmechanik und der Turbu-lenzforschung auf die Geschiebebewegung.” Mitteilungen der Preussischen Versuchsanstalt fur Wasserbau und Schiffbau Heft 26, Berlin (in German).Google Scholar
  36. Shields, A., 1936c, “Application of similarity principles and turbulence research to bed-load movement.” Hydrodynamics Laboratory Publ. No. 167 W. P. Ott, and J. C. van Uchelen, trans., U.S. Dept. of Agr., Soil Conservation Service Cooperative Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.Google Scholar
  37. Smith, J. D. and S. R. McLean 1977, “Spatially averaged flow over a wavy surface.” Journal of Geophysical Research, 82(12): 1735-1746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tennekes, H. and Lumley, J. L., 1972, “A First Course in Turbulence.” MIT Press, Cambridge, USA, 300 p.Google Scholar
  39. Toro-Escobar, C. M. Parker, G. and C. Paola, 1996, “Transfer function for the deposition of poorly sorted gravel in response to streambed aggradation.” Journal of Hydraulic Research, 34(1): 35-53.Google Scholar
  40. Van Rijn, L., 1984, “Sediment transport, Part II: Suspended load transport.” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 110(11), 1613-1641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wilcock, P. R., and Crowe, J. C., 2003, “Surface-based transport model for mixed-size sediment.” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 129(2), 120-128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wong, M. and Parker, G., 2006, “The bedload transport relation of Meyer-Peter and Mller overpredicts by a factor of two.” Journal of Hydraulic Engineer-ing,132, 1159-1168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wright, S., and G. Parker, 2004, “Flow resistance and suspended load in sand-bedivers: simplified stratification model.” Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 130 (8),796-805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Personalised recommendations