A flume experiment on the formation of wood jams in rivers



[1] A flume experiment is carried out to explore jamming of Large Woody Debris (LWD) in streams with complex morphology, occurring in mountain streams with in channel boulders or vegetation, in braided rivers or in floodplains during flood events. Non rooted, defoliated LWD is modeled using wood dowels and obstacles to motion are represented by vertical wood rods. Congested transport of LWD is simulated by insertion of a number (100) of dowels. The final position of the dowels is mapped and the observed jams are classified according to their size and position. The key member of each jam is identified and its trapping mechanism evaluated, either by leaning against a single obstacle or by bridging two obstacles. To mimic uncongested transport, the experiment is repeated for single pieces of wood, with subsequent removal. Longer dowels and shallower water result in shorter traveled distance. Wood pieces travel farther when congested transport is observed. The traveled distance of the wood pieces can be modeled using a Gamma distribution, for both congested and uncongested transport. Jams instead display Uniform traveled distance. The number of pieces displays an Exponential distribution. The degree of uniformity in space of jams and wood pieces is evaluated using a neighbor K statistic. Wood pieces show considerable clustering, while jams show sparse distribution. Eventually, the relationship between jams magnitude and position is explored, showing negative correlation. Model application is then discussed and some conclusions and future developments are outlined.