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Density stratification controls the bedform phase diagram of saline-gravity currents versus open-channel flows

Ohata, Koji; de Cala, Isabel; Dorrell, Robert M.; Naruse, Hajime; McLelland, Stuart J.; Simmons, Stephen M.; McCaffrey, William D.


Koji Ohata

Isabel de Cala

Hajime Naruse

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Dr Stuart McLelland
Interim Co-Director of the Energy and Environment Institute

William D. McCaffrey


Sedimentary bedforms such as ripples and dunes are generated both by river flows and sediment-laden gravity currents. Gravity current deposits are usually parameterized using existing bedform phase diagrams which are based on data from laboratory experiments and field observations of open-channel flows. Yet, it is not evident that open-channel flow bedform phase diagrams are applicable to gravity current deposits. Gravity current hydrodynamics are dependent on vertical density variation, that is density stratification, and therefore are fundamentally different from open-channel flows. New experiments to produce gravity current deposits are conducted and compared to existing open-channel flow data. It is shown that a parameter phase-space based on the lower layer of stratified gravity currents (i.e. that part below the velocity maximum) significantly improves the prediction of bedform type compared to bedform phase diagrams derived from layer-averaged parameters. These results confirm that bedforms produced by gravity currents can only be predicted accurately using the characteristics of the lower layer of stratified flow.


Ohata, K., de Cala, I., Dorrell, R. M., Naruse, H., McLelland, S. J., Simmons, S. M., & McCaffrey, W. D. (in press). Density stratification controls the bedform phase diagram of saline-gravity currents versus open-channel flows. Sedimentology,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 16, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 18, 2023
Deposit Date Feb 2, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 19, 2024
Journal Sedimentology
Print ISSN 0037-0746
Electronic ISSN 1365-3091
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Bedforms; Bedform phase diagram; Density stratification; Gravity currents; Open-channel flows
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