2d bedload transport experiments with glass spheres


These experiments were performed at the Penn Sediment Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania from November 2012 - July 2013.  The goal of the experiments was to study bed load transport at the particle scale, to understand dynamics of:

  • Particle interactions / collisions
  • Entrainment / distrainment
  • Statistics particle trajectories, including path lengths and waiting times
  • Bed surface evolution

All of the experiments were performed with a steady water feed and particle flux.  We used a bidisperse grain size mixture with a 1:1 number ratio of particles.  Particle diameters were X mm and X mm for small and large beads, respectively.  Particles were fed into the flume by a customized particle feeder, which is described on the equipment page.  We tracked bed evolution and waiting times by use of time-lapse photography on the sidewall of the flume.

Experiment name Particle feed rate (beads/minute) Time lapse photo rate (photos/minute)
S12 12 30
S30 30 6
S60 60 12
S90 90 30
S120 120 30


Martin RL, Purohit PK, Jerolmack DJ (2014). Sedimentary bed evolution as a mean-reverting random walk: implications for tracer dispersion (in press, Geophysical Research Letters), doi: 10.1002/2014GL060525