In this work, a novel 2D depth-integrated numerical model for highly sediment-laden shallow flows over non-uniform erodible beds is presented, including variable density and exchange between the bed layer and the water–sediment mixture flow. The system of equations is formed by the 2D conservation equations for the mass and momentum of the mixture, the mass conservation equation for the different sediment size-classes transported in the flow and the bed evolution equation. The depth-averaged mixture density varies according to the volumetric concentration of the different sediment size-classes that can be incorporated from the bed to the flow and transported as suspended materials. The rheological behaviour of the flow is directly controlled by the properties of the mixture. A new x-split augmented Roe (xA-Roe) scheme is derived to solve the coupled flow and suspended solid-phase equations in both structured and unstructured meshes. The numerical scheme is defined to properly include density variations and momentum source terms, retaining a well-balanced flux formulation in steady states and the correct treatment of the wet–dry fronts. The numerical scheme is assessed with steady and transient cases involving highly sediment-laden flows, demonstrating its accuracy, stability and robustness in the presence of complex bed topography, wetting–drying fronts and rapid morphological changes.

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