Fine-grained channel margin (FGCM) deposits conditioned by Large Woody Debris (LWD) in a gravel-bed river

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The purpose of this research is to examine the origin, occurrence, persistence, residence time and general significance of fine-grained channel margin storage in South River, a steep gravel-bedded stream in western Virginia. Fine-grained channel margin (FGCM) deposits in this study refers to specific in-channel deposits of mud and sand. These deposits occur primarily in the margins and near-banks regions of the channel. Fine- grained sediment storage in the near-bank regions is a result of reduced velocity caused by the bank obstructions. Nearly all of these obstructions consist of LWD accumulations in the channel. Storage occurs in four different geomorphic settings: 1) long pooled sections caused by bedrock or old mill dams, 2) the upstream ends of pools in channel margins with LWD accumulations, 3) bank obstructions usually caused by trees, 4) side channel backwaters where flow separates around islands. In approximately 38 km of river, there is 3000 m3 of fine-grained sediment stored in these features. The channel stores approximately 15 percent its total annual suspended load as fine-grained channel margin deposits. Consequently, these features represent a significant component of an annual sediment budget for this river. On average, the FGCM deposits are about 35 cm deep, 20 m long, and 4 m wide. They average 30 percent mud, 68 percent sand, and 2 percent gravel. These deposits have been cored and analyzed for Hg, grain size, loss-on-ignition, and bomb radiocarbon. Results from bomb radiocarbon analysis indicate that these features have an average age of 13 years. High Hg concentrations in fish tissue are an ongoing problem along South River, further motivating detailed study of these deposits.

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