In this study, the incipient motion of four groups of sand, ranging from medium to very coarse particles, was experimentally examined using an acoustic Doppler velocimeter (ADV) in different water depths under the hydraulically transitional flow condition. The transport criterion of the Kramer visual observation method was used to determine threshold conditions. Some equations for calculating threshold average and near-bed velocities were derived. Results showed that the threshold velocity was directly proportional to both sediment particle size and water depth. The vertical distributions of the Reynolds shear stress showed an increase from the bed to about 0.1 of the water’s depth, after performing a damping area, then a decrease toward the water surface. By extending the linear portion of the Reynolds shear stress in the upper zone of the damping area to the bed, the critical shear stress, particle shear Reynolds number, and critical Shields parameter were calculated. Results showed that the critical Shields parameter was located under the Shields curve, showing no sediment motion. This indicates that the incipient motion of sediment particles occurred with smaller bed shear stress than that estimated using the Shields diagram in the hydraulically transitional flow region. The reason could be related to differences between the features of the present experiment and those of the experiments used in the development of the Shields diagram, including the approaches to determine and define threshold conditions, the accuracy of experimental tools to estimate critical shear stress, and sediment particle characteristics. Therefore, the change in the specifications of experiments from those on which the Shields diagram has been based led to the deviation between the estimation using the Shields diagram and that of real threshold conditions, at least in the hydraulically transitional flow region with sand particles.
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