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Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

Quadrant/octant sequencing and the role of coherent structures in bed load sediment entrainment

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Abstract

To permit the tracking of turbulent flow structures in an Eulerian frame from single-point measurements, we make use of a generalization of conventional two-dimensional quadrant analysis to three-dimensional octants. We characterize flow structures using the sequences of these octants and show how significance may be attached to particular sequences using statistical mull models. We analyze an example experiment and show how a particular dominant flow structure can be identified from the conditional probability of octant sequences. The frequency of this structure corresponds to the dominant peak in the velocity spectra and exerts a high proportion of the total shear stress. We link this structure explicitly to the propensity for sediment entrainment and show that greater insight into sediment entrainment can be obtained by disaggregating those octants that occur within the identified macroturbulence structure from those that do not. Hence, this work goes beyond critiques of Reynolds stress approaches to bed load entrainment that highlight the importance of outward interactions, to identifying and prioritizing the quadrants/octants that define particular flow structures.

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