To predict changes in sediment transport, it is essential to know whether transport is regulated mainly by changes in flow or by changes in grain size of sediment on the bed. In flows where changes in suspended sediment transport are regulated purely by changes in flow (grain size of bed sediment is constant), increases in flow strength cause increases in both concentration and grain size of sediment in suspension (because stronger flows are able to suspend more sediment and coarser grains). Under this constraint of constant grain size of bed sediment concentration and median diameter of suspended sediment are positively correlated. In contrast, where transport is regulated purely by changes in grain size of sediment on the bed, concentration and median diameter of suspended sediment are negatively correlated (because increasing the median diameter of the bed sediment causes the concentration to decrease while causing the median grain size in suspension to increase). Where both flow strength and grain size on the bed are free to vary, the relation between concentration and grain size in suspension can be used to quantify the importance of grain size regulation relative to flow regulation of sediment transport, a measure defined as ??. To predict sediment transport in systems that are regulated dominantly by changes in grain size on the bed, it is more useful to measure sediment input events or changes in grain size on the bed than to measure changes in flow. More commonly, grain size of bed sediment may be secondary to flow in regulating transport but may, nevertheless, be important. The relative coarseness of bed sediment (??) can be measured directly or, like ??, can be calculated from measurements of concentration and grain size of suspended sediment.
Additional Publication Details
Quantifying the relative importance of flow regulation and grain size regulation of suspended sediment transport ?? and tracking changes in grain size of bed sediment ??