Particle size characteristics of suspended sediment in hillslope runoff and stream flow

McGowan , Hamish A. and Sturman, Andrew P. (1997) Particle size characteristics of suspended sediment in hillslope runoff and stream flow. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 22 8: 705-719. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1096-9837(199708)22:8

Author McGowan , Hamish A.
Sturman, Andrew P.
Title Particle size characteristics of suspended sediment in hillslope runoff and stream flow
Journal name Earth Surface Processes and Landforms   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0197-9337
Publication date 1997-08
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9837(199708)22:8
Volume 22
Issue 8
Start page 705
End page 719
Total pages 15
Place of publication England, United Kingdom
Publisher J. Wiley
Language eng
Subject 0499 Other Earth Sciences
Abstract This paper presents results from one of the few scientific studies to examine the physical characteristics of aeolian sediment transport in an alpine area, where topographically reinforced foehn winds initiate dust storm events. The major objective of this study is to improve knowledge of aeolian processes in mid-latitude alpine regions experiencing extreme wind speeds. Of particular interest is the role of surface characteristics in contributing to the unusually deep saltation layer which is seen to form over fluvio-glacial deposits in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Sediment was collected at several heights (05, 1, 2 and 4 m) and locations over a large alpine braided river delta, and standard laboratory techniques used to examine grain size characteristics. An image processing technique was also used to evaluate grain roundness. Grains filtered from the airstream at 05 m and 1 m above such surfaces were found to display a mean grain size of approximately 300 to 435 m, resembling grain size characteristics of saltation clouds previously observed in high latitude, cold climate locations, in contrast to desert and prairie environments. Samples collected at 2 and 4 m above the surface were found to consist of 60 to 65 per cent sand-sized material, with some grains exceeding 1-15 mm in diameter. Grain shape analysis conducted on silt- and clay-sized grains filtered from the airstream above mixed sand and gravel surfaces showed such grains to display an increase in grain roundness with height. This characteristic is thought to reflect the airstream's shape-sorting ability and has important implications with respect to the often observed increase in grain roundness in aeolian deposits with increasing distance from source areas. Namely, if more rounded grains are preferentially carried higher into the airstream and therefore into regions of higher wind speed, they should theoretically be transported further from the entrainment zone before being deposited. The high wind speeds observed, often exceeding 30 m s-1, are seen to transport significantly larger sediment than reported in the literature for desert and prairie environments. In addition, the mixture of grain sizes, and especially the pebble- and cobble-sized clasts that dominate the fluvio-glacial deposits associated with the braided rivers in this mountain region, also appear to increase significantly the trajectory height of saltating sand grains. As a result of these two factors, the depth of the saltation cloud often exceeds 1 m. Observations made in this study therefore highlight the need for field and laboratory aeolian process studies to be extended to examine grain transport over coarse-grained beds during much higher wind velocities than typically reported in the literature. Such studies would provide a valuable insight into aeolian processes in high latitude/altitude environments, such as loess genesis. © 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Keyword Aeolian
Sand saltation
Southern Alps
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Earth Sciences Publications
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Created: Tue, 02 Feb 2010, 10:08:50 EST by Gerald Martin on behalf of Faculty of Science