The impact of inter‐flood duration on non‐cohesive sediment bed stability

Annie Ockelford, Stephen Woodcock, Heather Haynes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Limited field and flume data suggests that both uniform and graded beds appear to progressively stabilize when subjected to inter-flood flows as characterized by the absence of active bedload transport. Previous work has shown that the degree of bed stabilization scales with duration of inter-flood flow, however, the sensitivity of this response to bed surface grain size distribution has not been explored. This article presents the first detailed comparison of the dependence of graded bed stability on inter-flood flow duration. Sixty discrete experiments, including repetitions, were undertaken using three grain size distributions of identical D 50 (4.8 mm); near-uniform (σ g = 1.13), unimodal (σ g = 1.63) and bimodal (σ g = 2.08). Each bed was conditioned for between 0 (benchmark) and 960 minutes by an antecedent shear stress below the entrainment threshold of the bed (τ* c50). The degree of bed stabilization was determined by measuring changes to critical entrainment thresholds and bedload flux characteristics. Results show that (i) increasing inter-flood duration from 0 to 960 minutes increases the average threshold shear stress of the D 50 by up to 18%; (ii) bedload transport rates were reduced by up to 90% as inter-flood duration increased from 0 to 960 minutes; (iii) the rate of response to changes in inter-flood duration in both critical shear stress and bedload transport rate is non-linear and is inversely proportional to antecedent duration; (iv) there is a grade dependent response to changes in critical shear stress where the magnitude of response in uniform beds is up to twice that of the graded beds; and (v) there is a grade dependent response to changes in bedload transport rate where the bimodal bed is most responsive in terms of the magnitude of change. These advances underpin the development of more accurate predictions of both entrainment thresholds and bedload flux timing and magnitude, as well as having implications for the management of environmental flow design.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2861-2871
    Number of pages11
    JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
    Issue number14
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2019

    Bibliographical note

    This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Ockelford, A., Woodcock, S., and Haynes, H. ( 2019) The Impact of Inter‐flood Duration on Non‐Cohesive Sediment Bed Stability. Earth Surf. Process. Landforms, which has been published in final form at, This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.


    • inter-flood duration
    • entrainment threshold
    • bedload flux
    • grain size distribution


    Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of inter‐flood duration on non‐cohesive sediment bed stability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this