Interaction between meander dynamics and floodplain heterogeneity in a large tropical sand-bed river: the Rio Beni, Bolivian Amazon
Schwendel, A.C.; Nicholas, A.P.; Aalto, R.E.; et al.Sambrook Smith, G.H.; Buckley, S.
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
Wiley for British Society for Geomorphology
The evolution of meandering river floodplains is predominantly controlled by the interplay between overbank sedimentation and channel migration. The resulting spatial heterogeneity in floodplain deposits leads to variability in bank erodibility, which in turn influences channel migration and planform development. Despite the potential ...
The evolution of meandering river floodplains is predominantly controlled by the interplay between overbank sedimentation and channel migration. The resulting spatial heterogeneity in floodplain deposits leads to variability in bank erodibility, which in turn influences channel migration and planform development. Despite the potential significance of these feedbacks, few studies have quantified their impact upon channel evolution and floodplain construction in dynamic settings (e.g., locations characterized by rapid channel migration and high rates of overbank sedimentation). This study employs a combination of field observations, GIS analysis of satellite imagery and numerical modelling to investigate these issues along a 375 km reach of the Rio Beni in the Bolivian Amazon. Results demonstrate that the occurrence of clay-rich floodplain deposits promotes a significant reduction in channel migration rates and distinctive styles of channel evolution, including channel straightening and immobilisation of bend apices leading to channel narrowing. Clay bodies act as stable locations limiting the propagation of planform disturbances in both upstream and downstream directions, and operate as ‘hinge’ points, around which the channel migrates. Spatial variations in the erodibility of clay-rich floodplain material also promote large-scale (10-50 km) differences in channel sinuosity and migration, although these variables are also likely to be influenced by channel gradient and tectonic effects that are difficult to quantify. Numerical model results suggest that spatial heterogeneity in bank erodibility, driven by variable bank composition, may force a substantial (c. 30%) reduction in average channel sinuosity, compared to situations in which bank strength is spatially homogeneous
College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Item views 0
Full item downloads 0