Downstream fining by selective deposition in a laboratory flume

Chris Paola, Gary Parker, Rebecca Seal, Sanjiv K. Sinha, John B. Southard, Peter R. Wilcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


There has long been debate about the relative importance of abrasion versus selective deposition of the coarsest clasts in causing downstream fining of sediment in river systems. Although high fining rates observed in many natural rivers seem to require strong selective deposition, the ability of selective deposition to produce downstream size sorting has never been measured under controlled conditions. In an experiment using a long flume and a poorly sorted, bimodal gravel feed, downstream fining was produced by a factor of 1.3 in median size and 1.8 in 90th percentile size, over a distance of 21 meters. The experimental conditions rule out abrasion effects. Selective deposition appears to be a natural consequence of the transport and deposition of sufficiently poorly sorted or bimodal gravels and appears to be capable of accounting for fining rates observed in natural gravel rivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1757-1760
Number of pages4
Issue number5089
StatePublished - Dec 11 1992


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