Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 1466–1477 | Cite as

The effects of protruding rock boulders in regulating sediment intrusion within the hyporheic zone of mountain streams

Special topics from the 35th IAHR World Congress


Excessive sedimentation in mountain stream ecosystems is a critical environmental problem due to the clogging of streambeds by sediment particles within the hyporheic zone, with detrimental effects on fish spawning habitat. In this research, the effects of an array of boulders in regulating the intrusion of incoming sand within a gravel substrate were evaluated by performing detailed experiments in a laboratory flume. A unique experimental setup and two different sampling techniques were utilized for measuring the infiltrated sand within the gravel bed under two bed shear stress conditions (moderate vs. high). For comparison purposes, experiments were performed without and with the presence of partially submerged to the flow (protruding) boulders, which is typical for the average flow conditions found in mountain streams. Results indicated that sand infiltrated primarily in the upper part of the gravel bed creating a surface seal which hindered the penetration of sand particles deeper into the bed. An exponential decrease of the amount of the infiltrated sand within the hyporheic zone was observed in all experiments regardless of the presence of boulders. However, the presence of boulders promoted sediment intrusion of sand particles especially for the moderate applied bed shear stress condition, since the total amount of the infiltrated sand was found to be on average 44% greater when boulders were present. The findings from this study can provide additional insight regarding the role of boulders on promoting downwelling of flow and sediment within the gravel substrate with potential effects on fish habitat.


Spawning Gravel Boulders Sand Intrusion Sedimentation 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dimitrios Dermisis
    • 1
  • A. N. Thanos Papanicolaou
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Chemical, Civil and Mechanical EngineeringMcNeese State UniversityLake CharlesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringThe University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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