Exploring Particle Density Effects on Partial Mobility of Steelhead Spawning Gravels

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Yellowbank Creek is a small stream in coastal central California being assessed for salmonid habitat limiting factors and restoration potential. Yellowbank flows through low-density marine mudstone bedrock, which is the gravel source for the stream. To assess the potential effects of the low-density substrate on spawning gravels, a tracer stone study comparing the incipient motion of low-density mudstone particles and typical density granitic particles was used to populate a logistic regression particle entrainment model. A model comparison approach was used to test the strength of the model. Results demonstrate partial mobility of both mudstone and granitic particles under boundary shear conditions ranging from 6.9 to 42.2 N m-2. The modelling results quantify the strong negative correlation between particle entrainment and particle density. Mudstone gravel was three times more likely to be entrained than granitic gravel, within the context of the experimental conditions. The effect of density difference on partial mobility was greater in smaller grain size fractions. This work has implications for salmonid spawning success in atypical geologic settings and may assist in prioritization of restoration efforts.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalRiver Research and Applications
StatePublished - Jan 2015


  • sediment transport
  • salmonid
  • particle density
  • washout
  • AIC
  • modelling
  • shear stress
  • partial mobility


  • Geology

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