On why gravel bed streams are paved


  • Gary Parker,

  • Peter C. Klingeman


Bedload transport in poorly sorted gravel bed streams is considered. Bedload and typical bed material (subpavement) size distributions are observed to be similar; it follows that the coarse half of the subpavement moves through a reach at a rate near that of the fine half. Since coarser grains are intrinsically less mobile than fine grains, it follows that some mechanism must act to nearly equalize mobility. It is hypothesized that the pavement seen in gravel bed streams at low flow is in fact in place during typical transport events capable of moving all available sizes. This pavement can provide the equalizing mechanism by exposing proportionally more coarse grains to the flow. Field data are used to quantify this concept and to develop a predictive relation for river pavement. The model indicates that pavement should be absent in most sand bed streams, in agreement with observation.