River channel bars and dunes - Theory of kinematic waves

Professional Paper 422-L




A kinematic wave is a grouping cf moving objects in zones along a flow path and through which the objects pass. These concentrations may be characterized by a simple relation between the speed of the moving objects and their spacing as a result of interaction between them.

Vehicular traffic has long been known to have such properties. Data are introduced to show that beads carried by flowing water in a narrow flume behave in an analogous way. The flux or transport of objects in a single lane of traffic is greatest when the objects are spaced about two diameters apart; beads in a single-lane flume as well as highway traffic conform to this property.

By considering the sand in a pipe or flume to a depth affected by dune movement, it is shown that flux-concentration curves similar to the previously known cases can be constructed from experimental data. From the kinematic point of view, concentration of particles in dunes and other wave bed forms results when particles in transport become more numerous or closely spaced and interact to reduce the effectiveness of the ambient water to move them.

Field observations over a 5-year period are reported in which individual rocks were painted for identification and placed at various spacings on the bed of ephemeral stream in New Mexico, to study the effect of storm flows on rock movement. The data on about 14,000 rocks so observed show the effect of variable spacing which is quantitatively as well as qualitatively comparable to the spacing effect on small glass beads in a flume.

Dunes and gravel bars may be considered kinematic waves caused by particle interaction, and certain of their properties can be related to the characteristics of the flux-concentration curve.

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River channel bars and dunes - Theory of kinematic waves
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Professional Paper
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U.S. Government Printing Office
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
iii, 20 p.
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