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Meandering channel dynamics in highly cohesive sediment on an intertidal mud flat in the Westerschelde estuary, the Netherlands
Kleinhans, M.; Schuurman, F.; Bakx, W.; Markies, H. (2009). Meandering channel dynamics in highly cohesive sediment on an intertidal mud flat in the Westerschelde estuary, the Netherlands. Geomorphology (Amst.) 105(3-4): 261-276.
In: Geomorphology. Elsevier: Amsterdam; New York; Oxford; Tokyo. ISSN 0169-555X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Marine; Brackish water
Author keywords
    Meandering; Cohesion; Erosive step; Bank erosion; Separated bend flow

Authors  Top 
  • Kleinhans, M., more
  • Schuurman, F.
  • Bakx, W., more
  • Markies, H.

    Small meandering channels of about 1 m wide on an intertidal mudflat in the Westerschelde estuary the Netherlands) were studied with the aim to improve understanding of the effect of highly cohesive bed and bank sediment on channel inception and meander geometry and dynamics. The study is supported by experiments and modelling. The estuarine meandering channels are less dynamical than alluvial meandering rivers, and the dynamics are more localised. Moreover, the high thresholds for bed sediment erosion and for bank failure lead to two processes, uncommon in larger rivers, that cause most of the morphological change. First, the beds of the channels are eroded by backward migrating steps under hydraulic jumps, while the remainder of the bed surface along the channel is hardly eroded. Second, channel banks erode i) where eroding steps locally cause undercutting of otherwise stable channel banks and ii) in very sharp bends where the flow separates from the inner-bend channel boundary and impinges directly on the bank on the opposite side of the channel. Further morphological change is probably induced by rainfall splash erosion and by storm waves that weaken the mud, and by large mud fluxes from the estuary. The steps were successfully reproduced in laboratory flume experiments. An existing model for step migration predicted celerities consistent with field and laboratory observations and demonstrated a strong dependence on the threshold for erosion. Bank stability models confirm that banks and steps only fail when undercut and weakened by waves, rain or excess pore pressure in agreement with observations. The effects of a high threshold for bank erosion was implemented in an existing meander simulation model that reproduced the observed locations of bank erosion somewhat better than without the threshold, but flow separation and its effect on meander bends remains poorly understood.

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