5 years ago

The planform mobility of river channel confluences: Insights from analysis of remotely sensed imagery

River channel confluences are widely acknowledged as important geomorphological nodes that control the downstream routing of water and sediment, and which are locations for the preservation of thick fluvial deposits overlying a basal scour. Despite their importance, there has been little study of the stratigraphic characteristics of river junctions, or the role of confluence morphodynamics in influencing stratigraphic character and preservation potential. As a result, although it is known that confluences can migrate through time, models of confluence geomorphology and sedimentology are usually presented from the perspective that the confluence remains at a fixed location. This is problematic for a number of reasons, not least of which is the continuing debate over whether it is possible to discriminate between scour that has been generated by autocyclic processes (such as confluence scour) and that driven by allocyclic controls (such as sea-level change). This paper investigates the spatial mobility of river confluences by using the 40-year record of Landsat Imagery to elucidate the styles, rates of change and areal extent over which large river confluence scours may migrate. On the basis of these observations, a new classification of the types of confluence scour is proposed and applied to the Amazon and Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) basins. This analysis demonstrates that the drivers of confluence mobility are broadly the same as those that drive channel change more generally. Thus in the GBM basin, a high sediment supply, large variability in monsoonal driven discharge and easily erodible bank materials result in a catchment where over 80% of large confluences are mobile over this 40-year window; conversely this figure is <40% for the Amazon basin. These results highlight that: i) the potential areal extent of confluence scours is much greater than previously assumed, with the location of some confluences on the Jamuna (Brahmaputra) River migrating over a distance of 20 times the tributary channel width; ii) extensive migration in the confluence location is more common than currently assumed, and iii) confluence mobility is often tied to the lithological and hydrological characteristics of the drainage basins that determine sediment yield.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0012825216303464

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.