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ABSTRACT

Measured variations of pivoting angles with grain size, shape (‘reliability’ and angularity) and imbrication are employed in analyses of grain threshold to examine how these factors influence selective grain entrainment and sorting. With a bed of uniform grain sizes, as employed experimentally to establish the standard threshold curves such as that of Shields, the threshold condition depends on grain shape and fabric. The analysis demonstrates quantitatively that there should be a series of nearly-parallel threshold curves depending on grain pivoting angles. For a given grain size, the order of increasing flow strength required for entrainment is spheres, smooth ellipsoids (depending on their ‘reliability’), angular grains, and imbricated ellipsoids (depending on their imbrication angles). The relative threshold values for these different grain shapes and fabric are predicted according to their respective pivoting angles, but remain to be directly tested by actual threshold measurements.

The pivoting angle of a grain also depends on the ratio of its size to those it rests upon. This dependence permits an evaluation of selective entrainment by size of grains from a bed of mixed sizes, the condition generally found in natural sediments. The pivoting model predicts systematic departures from the standard threshold curves for uniform grain sizes. Such departures have been found in recent studies of gravel threshold in rivers and offshore tidal currents. The pivoting model is compared with those threshold data with reasonable agreement. However, more controlled measurements are required for a satisfactory test of the model.

It is concluded that variations in pivoting angles for grain entrainment are significant to the processes of selective sorting by grain size and shape.