Articles | Volume 12, issue 3
Research article
23 Mar 2012
Research article |  | 23 Mar 2012

Sediment budget monitoring of debris-flow and bedload transport in the Manival Torrent, SE France

J. I. Theule, F. Liébault, A. Loye, D. Laigle, and M. Jaboyedoff

Abstract. Steep mountain catchments typically experience large sediment pulses from hillslopes which are stored in headwater channels and remobilized by debris-flows or bedload transport. Event-based sediment budget monitoring in the active Manival debris-flow torrent in the French Alps during a two-year period gave insights into the catchment-scale sediment routing during moderate rainfall intensities which occur several times each year. The monitoring was based on intensive topographic resurveys of low- and high-order channels using different techniques (cross-section surveys with total station and high-resolution channel surveys with terrestrial and airborne laser scanning). Data on sediment output volumes from the main channel were obtained by a sediment trap. Two debris-flows were observed, as well as several bedload transport flow events. Sediment budget analysis of the two debris-flows revealed that most of the debris-flow volumes were supplied by channel scouring (more than 92%). Bedload transport during autumn contributed to the sediment recharge of high-order channels by the deposition of large gravel wedges. This process is recognized as being fundamental for debris-flow occurrence during the subsequent spring and summer. A time shift of scour-and-fill sequences was observed between low- and high-order channels, revealing the discontinuous sediment transfer in the catchment during common flow events. A conceptual model of sediment routing for different event magnitude is proposed.