Abstract

We present results from a laboratory experiment documenting the evolution of a sinuous channel form via sedimentation from 24 turbidity currents having constant initial conditions. The initial channel had a sinuosity of 1.32, a wavelength of 1.95, an amplitude of 0.39 m, and three bends. All currents had a densimetric Froude number of 0.53 and an initial height equal to the channel relief at the start of the experiment. Large superelevation of currents was observed at bend apexes. This superelevation was 85%–142% greater than the value predicted by a balance of centrifugal and pressure-gradient forces. An additional contribution to the superelevation was the runup of the current onto the outer banks of bends. This runup height is described by a balance between kinetic and potential energy. Runup resulted in deposition of coarse particles on levee crests that were indistinguishable from those deposited on the channel bottom. Deposit thickness and composition showed a strong cross-channel asymmetry. Thicker, coarser, steeper levees grew on the outer banks relative to the inner banks of bends. Zones of flow separation were observed downstream from bend apexes along inner banks and affected sedimentation patterns. Sedimentation from currents caused the channel to aggrade with almost no change in planform. However, channel relief decreased throughout the experiment because deposition on the channel bottom always exceeded deposition at levee crests. The first bend served as a filter for the properties of the channelized current, bringing discharge at the channel entrance into agreement with the channel cross-sectional area. Excess discharge exited the channel at this filtering bend and was lost to the overbank surface.

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