Eulerian-Lagrangian definition of coarse bed-load transport: Theory and verification with low-cost inertial measurement units

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


    Fluvial sediment transport is controlled by hydraulics, sediment properties and arrangement, and flow history across a range of time scales. This physical complexity has led to ambiguous definition of the reference frame (Lagrangian or Eulerian) in which sediment transport is analysed. A general Eulerian-Lagrangian approach accounts for inertial characteristics of particles in a Lagrangian (particle fixed) frame, and for the hydrodynamics in an independent Eulerian frame. The necessary Eulerian-Lagrangian transformations are simplified under the assumption of an ideal Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), rigidly attached at the centre of the mass of a sediment particle. Real, commercially available IMU sensors can provide high frequency data on accelerations and angular velocities (hence forces and energy) experienced by grains during entrainment and motion, if adequately customized. IMUs are subjected to significant error accu- mulation but they can be used for statistical parametrisation of an Eulerian-Lagrangian model, for coarse sediment particles and over the temporal scale of individual entrainment events. In this thesis an Eulerian-Lagrangian model is introduced and evaluated experimentally. Absolute inertial accelerations were recorded at a 4 Hz frequency from a spherical instrumented particle (111 mm diameter and 2383 kg/m3 density) in a series of entrainment threshold experiments on a fixed idealised bed. The grain-top inertial acceleration entrainment threshold was approximated at 44 and 51 mg for slopes 0.026 and 0.037 respectively. The saddle inertial acceleration entrainment threshold was at 32 and 25 mg for slopes 0.044 and 0.057 respectively. For the evaluation of the complete Eulerian-Lagrangian model two prototype sensors are presented: an idealised (spherical) with a diameter of 90 mm and an ellipsoidal with axes 100, 70 and 30 mm. Both are instrumented with a complete IMU, capable of sampling 3D inertial accelerations and 3D angular velocities at 50 Hz. After signal analysis, the results can be used to parametrize sediment movement but they do not contain positional information. The two sensors (spherical and ellipsoidal) were tested in a series of entrainment experiments, similar to the evaluation of the 111 mm prototype, for a slope of 0.02. The spherical sensor entrained at discharges of 24.8 ± 1.8 l/s while the same threshold for the ellipsoidal sensor was 45.2 ± 2.2 l/s. Kinetic energy calculations were used to quantify the particle-bed energy exchange under fluvial (discharge at 30 l/s) and non-fluvial conditions. All the experiments suggest that the effect of the inertial characteristics of coarse sediments on their motion is comparable to the effect hydrodynamic forces. The coupling of IMU sensors with advanced telemetric systems can lead to the tracking of Lagrangian particle trajectories, at a frequency and accuracy that will permit the testing of diffusion/dispersion models across the range of particle diameters.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Glasgow
    • Hoey, Trevor B., Supervisor, External person
    • Hodge, Rebecca, Supervisor, External person
    • Sventek, Joseph, Supervisor, External person
    • Drysdale, Tim, Supervisor, External person
    Award date31 May 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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