A combined field sampling-modeling approach for computing sediment transport during flash floods in a gravel-bed stream



[1] Field sampling in unwadeable and flashy flood events encounters the problem that lateral variability of flow hydraulics and sediment transport cannot be captured adequately, and there is also an accuracy problem because parameters change while being measured. Moreover, event based gravel-sand mixed transport data in rapidly changing conditions are largely missing, in particular for gravel-bed rivers in small catchments. In this study, field measurements of bed load, suspended load, flow velocities, water depths, and cross-section geometry were collected during flood events at a monitoring station near the mouth of the Versilia River, Italy. Since the observed hydrographs are characterized by short durations, to the order of a few hours, an analysis of the lateral and temporal flow variability was carried out to enable the design of a sampling strategy and to minimize the errors created by the time variations of discharge associated with unsteady flow conditions. The measurements were interpreted using a 1-D hydro-morphodynamic numerical model simulating the dynamics of flow and sediment discharges during a flood event for a given return period. The flow and sediment rating curves were then developed through an integrated approach combining different methodologies: field measurements, laboratory analyses, and mathematical modeling. The developed approach allows one to capture the main physical mechanisms associated to the transport of sand-gravel mixtures, such as selective transport, and the hysteretic behavior of sediment transport produced by rapid and intense flood events.