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Book Chapter

Sediment Sorting in Alluvial Channels

Lucien M. Brush, Jr.
Lucien M. Brush, Jr.
The initial support for undertaking this study was made available by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The help of D. N. Contractor, T.–M. Lee, and K.–S. Chu in performing some of the necessary experiments is greatly appreciated. The author also wishes to thank Professor Gerard V. Middleton of McMaster University for reading the manuscript.
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January 01, 1965


The formation of primary sedimentary structures in and along an alluvial channel occurs as a result of interactions between gravity, the physical characteristics of the sediment and fluid as well as the hydraulic environment. The occurrence of many of these structures in channels results from the presence of ripples, dunes, bars, and antidunes on the bed. However, the actual process by which recognizable structures develop arises from sorting of sediment with respect to size, shape, and density along the bed and within the stream. The settling rates of the particles, turbulent diffusion, gravitational sliding and boundary shear stress contribute to the sorting processes. From laboratory experiments, quantitative descriptions of sorting within the suspended load are presented and compared to the theoretical diffusion model. A description of the sorting processes occurring within dunes and ripples is also presented together with a discussion of some of the interactions between dunes and ripples and hydraulic roughness.

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SEPM Special Publication

Primary Sedimentary Structures and Their Hydrodynamic Interpretation

Gerard V. Middleton
Gerard V. Middleton
McMaster Ulliversity
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SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology
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Publication date:
January 01, 1965




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