Upper‐regime parallel lamination as the result of turbulent sediment transport and low‐amplitude bed forms


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A series of laboratory experiments has been carried out in which parallel‐laminated deposits were produced from an upper‐regime plane bed. The laminae had thicknesses of a few mm and could be traced continuously over distances up to the length and width of the depositional area (0–3 m by 1–5m). Fluctuations in bed elevation were measured both during deposition and at equilibrium; much of the bed fluctuation occurs at time scales that are too long to be due directly to turbulence, as most theories for lamina formation would require. We suggest instead that extremely low‐amplitude bed forms are present even on apparently flat beds and that the migration of these bed forms produces laterally continuous lamination. All the lamination produced in the laboratory experiments was normally graded. Using high‐speed photography it was observed that the normal grading results from rapid deposition of a layer of loosely packed coarse sand several grain‐diameters thick followed by the slow sieving‐out of a well packed surface layer of finer sand. The initial deposition is the result of small‐scale turbulent fluctuations in boundary shear stress. The sieving‐out that follows results in a smooth surface whose low friction coefficient temporarily inhibits further deposition; we term this process ‘glazing’. The alignment of small‐scale turbulent scour‐and‐fill structures along the paths traced by migrating bedform troughs produces laterally continuous parallel lamination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1989


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