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Observations in a Sediment-Laden Flow by Use of Laser-Doppler Velocimetry


van Ingen, Catharine (1982) Observations in a Sediment-Laden Flow by Use of Laser-Doppler Velocimetry. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/X24M-0R50.


The laser-Doppler velocimetry technique was adapted for use in sediment-laden flows. The developed instrumentation was used to make one-dimensional, instantaneous measurements of both fluid and sediment grain velocities throughout the water column in such a flow. The velocimetry results were obtained in a steady, uniform flow over a natural sediment bed in the high-transport, flat bed regime.

Laser-Doppler velocimetry is particularly attractive for use in sediment-laden flows as no calibration is required and no probe is introduced into the flow field. Measurements of the fluid velocity and the occurrence and velocity of individual sediment grains are possible with the instrumentation developed in this study. The major difficulties encountered are the possible conditional sampling, hence possible biasing, of the fluid velocity data and the failure of the instrumentation to record or resolve individual sediment grains at higher sediment transport rates. The instrumentation employed in this study is still in the developmental stages and suggestions for its improvement are given.

Despite the difficulties encountered, the data obtained in this study give some insights into the mechanics of suspension and entrainment of sediment during transport by water. The longitudinal turbulence intensity does not seem to be significantly affected by the presence of suspended sediment; the turbulence intensities observed in the sediment-laden flow of this study do not differ greatly from the values reported by previous investigators for clear fluid flows. The mean and standard deviation of the sediment grain velocity were observed to be less than those for the fluid velocity in the lower portion of the flow, but respectively greater near the water surface.

The data demonstrate the shortcomings of the continuum approach to the mechanics of the suspension of sediment. The length (or time) scales of the fluid turbulence are smaller than the length (or time) scale of a set of sediment grains required to define suspended sediment concentration. Near the water surface, where the velocimeter acts as a grain counter, the probability density functions of the sediment grain inter-arrival times, the time between the detection of successive sediment grains, were observed to be negative exponentials. The transport of individual sediment grains might be modeled as a Poisson process.

This work is the foundation of an ongoing experimental program of direct measurements of the fine-scale, time-fluctuating characteristics of sediment-laden flows. This study developed and implemented instrumentation capable of making such measurements and established a conceptual framework for the subsequent interpretation of the data obtained. Two-dimensional measurements, with improved instrumentation, will give additional insights into the mechanics of sediment transport.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Civil Engineering
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Civil Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Brooks, Norman H.
Thesis Committee:
  • Brooks, Norman H. (chair)
  • List, E. John
  • Vanoni, Vito A.
  • Roshko, Anatol
  • Brennen, Christopher E.
Defense Date:29 October 1981
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSFENG 75-15786
NSFENG 77-10182
NSFCME 79-20311
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-01192007-155029
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:243
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:30 Jan 2007
Last Modified:06 Jul 2020 19:20

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