Pressure forces on sediment particles in turbulent open-channel flow: a laboratory study

Mohammad Amir* (Corresponding Author), Vladimir I. Nikora, Mark T. Stewart

*Corresponding author for this work

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An experimental investigation into the fluctuating pressure acting on sediment particles on the bed of an open-channel flow was carried out in a large laboratory flume for a range of flow depths and bed slopes. The pressure measurements were made using 23 spherical particles instrumented with differential pressure sensors. These measurements were complemented with simultaneous measurements of the velocity field using high-resolution stereoscopic particle image velocimetry. The pressure statistics show that the standard deviations of the drag and lift fluctuations vary from 2.0 to 2.6 and from 2.5 to 3.4 times the wall shear stress, respectively, and are dependent on relative submergence and flow Reynolds number. The skewness is positive for the drag fluctuations and negative for the lift fluctuations. The kurtosis values of both drag and lift fluctuations increase with particle submergence. The two-particle correlation between drag and lift fluctuations is found to be relatively weak compared to the two-point drag–drag and lift–lift correlations. The pressure cross-correlations between particles separated in the longitudinal direction exhibit maxima at certain time delays corresponding to the convection velocities varying from 0.64 to 0.72 times the bulk flow velocity, being very close to the near-bed eddy convection velocities. The temporal autocorrelation of drag fluctuations decays much faster than that for the lift fluctuations; as a result, the temporal scales of lift fluctuations are 3–6 times that of drag fluctuations. The spatial and temporal scales of both drag and lift fluctuations show dependence on flow depth and bed slope. The spectral behaviour of both drag and lift fluctuations is also assessed. A f−11/3 slope is observed for the spectra of the drag fluctuations over the majority of the frequency range, whereas the lift spectra suggest two scaling ranges, following a f−11/3 slope at high frequencies and f−5/3 behaviour at lower frequencies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-497
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Early online date19 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

This research was sponsored by EPSRC grant EP/G056404/1 and their financial
support is greatly appreciated. We also acknowledge Dr S. Cameron, who developed the PIV system and its algorithms. The design and construction of pressure sensors was carried out at the workshop and the experiments were conducted in the fluids laboratory at the University of Aberdeen. We therefore express our gratitude to the workshop and laboratory technicians and also to Mr M. Witz and Mr S. Gretland for their assistance in carrying out these experiments. The authors would also like to thank Professor J. Frohlich, Professor M. Uhlmann, Dr C.-B. Clemens and Mr B. Vowinckel for their useful suggestions and discussions throughout the course of this project. The Associate Editor Professor I. Marusic and four anonymous reviewers provided many useful and insightful comments and suggestions that have been gratefully incorporated into the final version.


  • channel flow
  • sediment transport
  • turbulent flows


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