Open check dams and large wood: head losses and release conditions
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
Abstract. Open check dams are strategic structures to control sediment and large-wood transport during extreme flood events in steep streams and piedmont rivers. Large wood (LW) tends to accumulate at such structures, obstruct their openings and increase energy head losses, thus increasing flow levels. The extent and variability to which the stage–discharge relationship of a check dam is modified by LW presence has so far not been clear. In addition, sufficiently high flows may trigger a sudden
... release of the trapped LW with eventual dramatic consequences downstream. This paper provides experimental quantification of LW-related energy head loss and simple ways to compute the related increase in water depth at dams of various shapes: trapezoidal, slit, slot and sabo (i.e. made of piles), with consideration of the flow capacity through their open bodies and atop their spillways. In addition, it was observed that LW is often released over the structure when the overflowing depth, i.e. total depth minus spillway elevation, is about 3–5 times the mean log diameter. Two regimes of LW accumulations were observed. Dams with low permeability generate low velocity upstream, and LW then accumulates as floating carpets, i.e. as a single floating layer. Conversely, dams with high permeability maintain high velocities immediately upstream of the dams and LW tends to accumulate in dense complex 3D patterns. This is because the drag forces are stronger than the buoyancy, allowing the logs to be sucked below the flow surface. In such cases, LW releases occur for higher overflowing depth and the LW-related head losses are higher. A new dimensionless number, namely the buoyancy-to-drag-force ratio, can be used to compute whether (or not) flows stay in the floating-carpet domain where buoyancy prevails over drag force.