In situ acoustic measurements of marine gravel threshold and transport



Measurements of the nearbed turbulent current flow and the bedload transport of marine gravel have been made over three tidal cycles. The turbulence in the bottom boundary layer was measured using two electromagnetic current meters, and the gravel transport was measured using a passive acoustic system which monitored the interparticle collision noise of locally mobile material. Visual estimates of bedload were also obtained with an underwater TV camera. The acoustic technique, unlike a conventional bedload sampler, has allowed estimates of transport to be obtained with a temporal resolution comparable with the turbulence data collected. This has enabled a detailed comparison to be made between the turbulent flow and the sediment response to the instantaneous flow conditions. The results of the study show that of the turbulent bursting events which contribute towards the Reynolds stress, only the sweeps and outward interactions play a significant role in the transport of coarse sedimentary material. The measurements show that it is the instantaneous increases in the horizontal turbulent velocity fluctuations that generate excess shear stresses which drive the transport process.