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Growth and shape of a laboratory alluvial fan

Abstract : Using laboratory experiments, we investigate the influence of water and sediment discharges on the morphology of an alluvial fan. In our flume, a single-thread laminar river deposits corundum sand into a conical fan. We record the fan progradation with top-view images and measure its shape using the deformation of a Moiré pattern. The fan remains virtually self-affine as it grows, with a nearly constant slope. We find that, when the sediment discharge is small, the longitudinal slope of the fan remains close to that of a river at the threshold for sediment transport. Consequently the slope depends on the water discharge only. A higher sediment discharge causes the fan's slope to depart from the threshold value. Due to the downstream decrease of the sediment load, this slope gets shallower towards the fan's toe. This mechanism generates a concave fan profile. This suggests that we could infer the sediment flux that feeds a fan based on its proximal slope.
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Pauline Delorme, O. Devauchelle, L. Barrier, F. Métivier. Growth and shape of a laboratory alluvial fan. Physical Review E , American Physical Society (APS), 2018, 98, pp.012907. ⟨10.1103/PhysRevE.98.012907⟩. ⟨hal-01848172⟩



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