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Flow Behaviour, Suspended Sediment Transport and Transmission Losses in a Small (Sub-bank-full) Flow Event in an Australian Desert Stream

Citation

Dunkerley, D and Brown, KJ, Flow Behaviour, Suspended Sediment Transport and Transmission Losses in a Small (Sub-bank-full) Flow Event in an Australian Desert Stream, Hydrological Processes, 13, (11) pp. 1577-1588. ISSN 0885-6087 (1999) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1085(19990815)13:11<1577::AID-HYP827>3.0.CO;2-L

Abstract

The behaviour of a discrete sub-bank-full flow event in a small desert stream in western NSW, Australia, is analysed from direct observation and sediment sampling during the flow event and from later channel surveys. The flow event, the result of an isolated afternoon thunderstorm, had a peak discharge of 9 m 3/s at an upstream station. Transmission loss totally consumed the flow over the following 7·6 km. Suspended sediment concentration was highest at the flow front (not the discharge peak) and declined linearly with the log of time since passage of the flow front, regardless of discharge variation. The transmission loss responsible for the waning and eventual cessation of flow occured at a mean rate of 13.2% per km. This is quite rapid, and is more than twice the corresponding figure for bank-full flows estimated by Dunkerley (1992) on the same stream system. It is proposed that transmission losses in ephemeral streams of the kind studied may be minimized in flows near bank-full stage, and be higher in both sub-bank-full and overbank flows. Factors contributing to enhanced flow loss in the sub-bank-full flow studied included abstractions of flow to pools, scour holes and other low points along the channel, and overflow abstractions into channel filaments that did not rejoin the main flow. On the other hand, losses were curtailed by the shallow depth of banks wetted and by extensive mud drapes that were set down over sand bars and other porous channel materials during the flow. Thus, in contrast with the relatively regular pattern of transmission loss inferred from large floods, losses from low flows exhibit marked spatial variability and depend to a considerable extent on streamwise variations in channel geometry, in addition to the depth and porosity of channel perimeter sediments. | The behaviour of a discrete sub-bank-full flow event in a small desert stream in western NSW, Australia, is analysed from direct observation and sediment sampling during the flow event and from later channel surveys. The flow event, the result of an isolated afternoon thunderstorm, had a peak discharge of 9 m 3/s at an upstream station. Transmission loss totally consumed the flow over the following 7.6 km. Suspended sediment concentration was highest at the flow front (not the discharge peak) and declined linearly with the log of time since passage of the flow front, regardless of discharge variation. The transmission loss responsible for the waning and eventual cessation of flow occurred at a mean rate of 13.2% per km. This is quite rapid, and is more than twice the corresponding figure for bank-full flows estimated by Dunkerley (1992) on the same stream system. It is proposed that transmission losses in ephemeral streams of the kind studied may be minimized in flows near bank-full stage, and be higher in both sub-bank-full and overbank flows. Factors contributing to enhanced flow loss in the sub-bank-full flow studied included abstractions of flow to pools, scour holes and other low points along the channel, and overflow abstractions into channel filaments that did not rejoin the main flow. On the other hand, losses were curtailed by the shallow depth of banks wetted and by extensive mud drapes that were set down over sand bars and other porous channel materials during the flow. Thus, in contrast with the relatively regular pattern of transmission loss inferred from large floods, losses from low flows exhibit marked spatial variability and depend to a considerable extent on streamwise variations in channel geometry, in addition to the depth and porosity of channel perimeter sediments.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience
Research Field:Geomorphology and Regolith and Landscape Evolution
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Other Environment
Objective Field:Environment not elsewhere classified
Author:Brown, KJ (Dr Katherine Brown)
ID Code:16219
Year Published:1999
Web of Science® Times Cited:46
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:1999-08-01
Last Modified:2011-08-04
Downloads:0

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