Simulation-based approach for stream restoration structure design: Model development and validation

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We develop, validate, and demonstrate the potential of Virtual StreamLab (VSL3D), a novel three-dimensional hydromorphodynamics computational model capable of simulating turbulent flow and sediment transport in natural waterways with embedded and arbitrarily complex hydraulic structures under live-bed conditions. The numerical model is based on the curvilinear immersed boundary (CURVIB) approach and can solve the unsteady Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (URANS) equations closed with the k-ω turbulence model in arbitrarily complex waterways with mobile sediment beds. Bed material transport is simulated by solving the nonequilibrium Exner equation for the bed surface elevation coupled with a transport equation for suspended load. Field-scale measurements obtained from experiments carried out in the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory Outdoor StreamLab are employed to validate the predictive capabilities of the numerical model. The VSL3D is used to develop a virtual testing environment of unprecedented resolution and physical realism for designing and optimizing the arrangements and installation of stream restoration rock structures. To our knowledge, the present work is the first systematic attempt to employ unsteady, three-dimensional, hydro-morphodynamics numerical modeling coupled with high-performance computing to develop an engineering framework for designing hydraulic structures for stream restoration applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04014042
JournalJournal of Hydraulic Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


  • Bed-morphodynamics
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • In-stream structures
  • Sediment transport
  • Turbulence models

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