Armor breakup and reformation in a degradational laboratory experiment

Clara Orrú*, Astrid Blom, Wim S J Uijttewaal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Armor breakup and reformation was studied in a laboratory experiment using a trimodal mixture composed of a 1mm sand fraction and two gravel fractions (6 and 10mm). The initial bed was characterized by a stepwise downstream fining pattern (trimodal reach) and a downstream sand reach, and the experiment was conducted under conditions without sediment supply. In the initial stage of the experiment an armor formed over the trimodal reach. The formation of the armor under partial transport conditions led to an abrupt spatial transition in the bed slope and in the mean grain size of the bed surface, as such showing similar results to a previous laboratory experiment conducted with a bimodal mixture. The focus of the current analysis is to study the mechanisms of armor breakup. After an increase in flow rate the armor broke up and a new coarser armor quickly formed. The breakup initially induced a bed surface fining due to the exposure of the finer substrate, which was accompanied by a sudden increase in the sediment transport rate, followed by the formation of an armor that was coarser than the initial one. The reformation of the armor was enabled by the supply of coarse material from the upstream degrading reach and the presence of gravel in the original substrate sediment. Here armor breakup and reformation enabled slope adjustment such that the new steady state was closer to normal flow conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-470
Number of pages10
JournalEarth Surface Dynamics (ESurf)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2016


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