Unifying Advective and Diffusive Descriptions of Bedform Pumping in the Benthic Biolayer of Streams

Stanley B. Grant, Ahmed Monofy, Fulvio Boano, Jesus D. Gomez-Velez, Ian Guymer, Judson Harvey, Marco Ghisalberti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Many water quality and ecosystem functions performed by streams occur in the benthic biolayer, the biologically active upper (~5 cm) layer of the streambed. Solute transport through the benthic biolayer is facilitated by bedform pumping, a physical process in which dynamic and static pressure variations over the surface of stationary bedforms (e.g., ripples and dunes) drive flow across the sediment‐water interface. In this paper we derive two predictive modeling frameworks, one advective and the other diffusive, for solute transport through the benthic biolayer by bedform pumping. Both frameworks closely reproduce patterns and rates of bedform pumping previously measured in the laboratory, provided that the diffusion model’s dispersion coefficient declines exponentially with depth. They are also functionally equivalent, such that parameter sets inferred from the advective model can be applied to the diffusive model, and vice versa. The functional equivalence and complementary strengths of these two models expands the range of questions that can be answered, for example by adopting the advective model to study the effects of geomorphic processes (such as bedform adjustments to landuse change) on flow‐dependent processes, and the diffusive model to study problems where multiple transport mechanisms combine (such as bedform pumping and turbulent diffusion). By unifying advective and diffusive descriptions of bedform pumping, our analytical results provide a straightforward and computationally efficient approach for predicting, and better understanding, solute transport in the benthic biolayer of streams and coastal sediments.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020WR027967
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


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