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    Author(s): John M. Buffington; David R. Montgomery
    Date: 1997
    Source: Water Resources Research. 33(8): 1993-2029.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (3.78 MB)


    Data compiled from eight decades of incipient motion studies were used to calculate dimensionless critical shear stress values of the median grain size, T*c50. Calculated T*c50 values were stratified by initial motion definition, median grain size type (surface, subsurface, or laboratory mixture), relative roughness, and flow regime. A traditional Shields plot constructed from data that represent initial motions of the bed surface material reveals systematic methodological biases of incipient motion of the bed surface material values determined from reference bed load transport rates and from visual observation of grain motion define subparallel Shields curves, with the latter generally underlying the former; values derived from competence functions define a separate but poorly developed field, while theoretical values predict a wide range of generally higher stresses that likely represent instantaneous, rather than time-averaged, critical shear stresses. The available data indicate that for high critical boundary Reynolds numbers and low relative roughnesses typical of gravel-bedded rivers, refererence-based and visually based studies have T*c50 ranges of 0.052-0.086 and 0.030-0.073, respectively. The apparent lack of a universal T*c50 for gravel-bedded rivers warrants great care in choosing defendable T*c50 values for particular applications.

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    Buffington, John M.; Montgomery, David R. 1997. A systematic analysis of eight decades of incipient motion studies, with special reference to gravel-bedded rivers. Water Resources Research. 33(8): 1993-2029.


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    incipient motion studies, gravel-bedded rivers, Shields plot

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