Fluvial Systems and River Geomorphology

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 January 2024) | Viewed by 14035

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Geomorphological Field Laboratory (GFL), Sandviksgjerde, Strandvegen 484, 7584 Selbustrand, Norway
Interests: geomorphology; hydrology; process monitoring; fluvial processes and forms; fluvial transport; drainage basin systems; sedimentary budgets; source-to-sink fluxes; denudation
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Fluvial drainage basins cover a significant portion of the Earth’s surface, and fluvial processes are crucial for shaping terrestrial landscapes. Fluvial systems play a major role in sediment connectivity from upland areas to oceans, affecting water resources, stream ecology, natural hazards and ecosystem services for mankind. As rivers convey water, eroded sediments, solutes and nutrients from the uplands and continents to the oceans, they exert fundamental control over the shape of the Earth’s surface. Accordingly, river systems are central to an understanding of the geomorphology of most terrestrial regions on the Earth.

In recent years, significant methodological and technological advances have provided the opportunity to study and quantify fluvial processes, fluvial landforms, and process–form interactions in great detail and high resolution across a wide range of different spatial and temporal scales.

This Special Issue seeks original research and review articles from interdisciplinary researchers working in field monitoring, experimental, remote sensing and various (numerical) modeling and dating approaches. It aims to further advance relevant methods and techniques and create new insights into fluvial sediment transport and morphodynamic functioning of fluvial systems, geomorphic processes during flood events and related hazard cascades, interactions between abiotic and biotic components within fluvial drainage basin systems, and short- to long-term evolution of fluvial landforms, rivers and drainage basin systems induced by different natural and anthropogenic drivers, as well as sustainable drainage basin management and river restoration.

Dr. Achim A. Beylich
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • drainage basin
  • fluvial processes
  • fluvial sediment transport
  • fluvial landforms
  • process-form interactions
  • morphodynamic functioning
  • sediment connectivity
  • natural and anthropogenic drivers
  • floods
  • sustainable drainage basin management
  • river restoration

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

26 pages, 12968 KiB  
Article
Sediment Sources, Erosion Processes, and Interactions with Climate Dynamics in the Vakhsh River Basin, Tajikistan
by Roy C. Sidle, Arnaud Caiserman, Ben Jarihani, Zulfiqor Khojazoda, Jens Kiesel, Maksim Kulikov and Aslam Qadamov
Water 2024, 16(1), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/w16010122 - 28 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1355
Abstract
The Vakhsh River is tributary to the Amu Dayra, supporting numerous hydropower facilities as well as irrigation and community water supplies. High sediment loads are major concerns for these uses, yet little is known about the spatial distribution of the dominant sediment sources [...] Read more.
The Vakhsh River is tributary to the Amu Dayra, supporting numerous hydropower facilities as well as irrigation and community water supplies. High sediment loads are major concerns for these uses, yet little is known about the spatial distribution of the dominant sediment sources or their connectivity to fluvial systems. Here, we address this gap by combining findings from a series of field expeditions, remotely sensed climate and vegetation assessments, systematic sediment sampling, hydrograph analysis, and a review of local literature. Our preliminary findings show that various mass wasting processes (e.g., landslides, debris flows, rockfall, dry ravel, bank failures) constitute the major connected sources of sediment, particularly in the mid- to downriver reaches, many of which are unaffected by land use. Surface erosion, including the large gullies in loess deposits of the lower basin, are more affected by poor agricultural practices and road runoff, and can supply large loads of fine sediment into the river. Climate trends detected through remote sensing show an increase in rainfall in the lower half of the basin from spring to early summer while solid precipitation has increased in the eastern half in March. These trends may lead to more runoff and increases in sedimentation if they continue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluvial Systems and River Geomorphology)
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19 pages, 1341 KiB  
Article
Investigating the Influence of the Relative Roughness of the Riverbanks to the Riverbed on Equilibrium Channel Geometry in Alluvial Rivers: A Variational Approach
by Jinsheng Fan, Qiushi Luo, Yuchuan Bai, Xiaofang Liu and Renzhi Li
Water 2023, 15(22), 4029; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15224029 - 20 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1068
Abstract
The roughness of a river’s boundary significantly influences the sediment transport process and the ultimate configuration of the river’s stable cross-section. This interplay between boundary roughness and river morphology is crucial to a river’s overall behavior and form. This study aims to analyze [...] Read more.
The roughness of a river’s boundary significantly influences the sediment transport process and the ultimate configuration of the river’s stable cross-section. This interplay between boundary roughness and river morphology is crucial to a river’s overall behavior and form. This study aims to analyze the influence of the relative roughness of riverbanks to a riverbed λ on the equilibrium form of alluvial rivers using a variational method. The results show the following: (1) As the parameter λ transitions from smaller to larger values, noteworthy variations are observed in a river’s characteristics. Specifically, there is a discernible reduction in the calculated maximum sediment discharge, coupled with a corresponding expansion in the optimal width–depth ratio. For instance, when λ changes from 1 to 0.1, the optimal width–depth ratio increases by 45%, while the calculated maximum sediment discharge experiences a decrease of 1.62%. (2) An examination of hydraulic geometric relationships, derived by assigning distinct values to the relative roughness of riverbanks to the riverbed, highlights the significant influence of this relative roughness on the ultimate equilibrium configuration of the river channel. Remarkably, this effect remains consistent and stands independently of other variables such as sediment discharge, flow discharge, channel gradient, and sediment size. (3) The critical and average hydraulic geometric relationships deduced in this study closely align with previous research findings. Notably, this research contributes to addressing the existing gap in understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of how river boundary conditions impact the equilibrium forms of rivers, thereby advancing our knowledge of river morphology. Nevertheless, it is imperative to emphasize that while this study provides valuable theoretical insights, the practical application of these findings in the context of river morphological evolution necessitates further in-depth research. It calls for a more comprehensive exploration of the transition from theoretical constructs to real-world applications, thus promoting a deeper understanding of the dynamics that shape river systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluvial Systems and River Geomorphology)
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23 pages, 9883 KiB  
Article
The Role of Geomorphology on Flood Propagation in a Large Tropical River: The Peculiar Case of the Araguaia River, Brazil
by Tainá Medeiros Suizu, Edgardo Manuel Latrubesse and Maximiliano Bayer
Water 2023, 15(21), 3725; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15213725 - 25 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1249
Abstract
In large rivers, floods are affected by the mosaic of geomorphic and geologic settings of the fluvial corridor. Here, we assess the role of geomorphology on the downstream flood dynamics of the Araguaia River, the largest free-flowing river in Central Brazil. The study [...] Read more.
In large rivers, floods are affected by the mosaic of geomorphic and geologic settings of the fluvial corridor. Here, we assess the role of geomorphology on the downstream flood dynamics of the Araguaia River, the largest free-flowing river in Central Brazil. The study integrates and advances existing flood-type classifications. We assess the factors that govern flood hydrograph properties and their downstream propagation by using flow time series, conducting statistical analysis, and evaluating geomorphic and flood metrics. Our findings highlight the role of geomorphology in the transmission of floods. In the upper and lowermost fluvial segments, the geological characteristics of the valley are a major factor. In the intermediate section, two main factors modulate the floods. The wide and complex floodplain plays a major role through storage and buffer effect for floods, and water diversion from the main system to a huge abandoned channel by avulsion governs seasonal flow transfers. The Araguaia is the most geodiverse floodplain of the Amazon–Cerrado ecotone, and floods play a fundamental ecological role in the river–floodplain environments. The combination of diverse factors controlling the flood mechanisms has to be considered when implementing conservation plans for the fluvial corridor and effective river management strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluvial Systems and River Geomorphology)
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12 pages, 2256 KiB  
Article
Provenance and Pollution Status of River Sediments in the Danube Watershed in Serbia
by Milica Kašanin-Grubin, Violeta Gajić, Gorica Veselinović, Sanja Stojadinović, Nevena Antić and Snežana Štrbac
Water 2023, 15(19), 3406; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15193406 - 28 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 939
Abstract
Heavy metals as environmental pollutants can have natural or anthropogenic origin. To determine the river sediment pollution status, it is crucial to have appropriate reference samples, free of anthropogenic impact, and natural reference samples should be used wherever and whenever possible. The collection [...] Read more.
Heavy metals as environmental pollutants can have natural or anthropogenic origin. To determine the river sediment pollution status, it is crucial to have appropriate reference samples, free of anthropogenic impact, and natural reference samples should be used wherever and whenever possible. The collection of reference samples should be performed in the vicinity of the research area in a place that belongs to the same geological environment and is undisturbed by human activity. The main purpose of this study was to compare concentrations of heavy metals from different rivers with background values to show that the usage of natural background values is the best option when assessing pollution status, but also to underline that the natural background values have to correspond to the analyzed sediments. In this study, 5 river sediments from Sava, 17 from Great War Island (GWI), 11 from Danube, 24 from Tisa, 47 from Tamiš, and 11 from Timok were evaluated relative to reference samples from the Sava and Tisa Rivers. The results indicate that geological origin has a strong influence on the content of heavy metals in river sediments, primarily regarding concentrations of Ni and Co. Furthermore, Tamiš, Tisa, Sava, and Danube sediments are under strong anthropogenic influence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluvial Systems and River Geomorphology)
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14 pages, 17291 KiB  
Article
Channel Gradient as a Factor in the Distribution of Beaver Dams and Ponds on Small Rivers: A Case Study in the Northern Extremity of the Volga Upland, the East European Plain
by Aidar G. Sharifullin, Artyom V. Gusarov, Olga A. Lavrova and Achim A. Beylich
Water 2023, 15(13), 2491; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15132491 - 7 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1515
Abstract
A very noticeable increase in the beaver population (mainly the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber L.)) in the East European Plain since the end of the 20th century through reintroduction contributed to the emergence of a large number of beaver dams and ponds, [...] Read more.
A very noticeable increase in the beaver population (mainly the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber L.)) in the East European Plain since the end of the 20th century through reintroduction contributed to the emergence of a large number of beaver dams and ponds, which resulted in the transformation of the channels and the hydrological regime of small rivers. In this paper, for the first time in the Middle Volga region, regularities in the distribution of beaver dams and ponds on small rivers were revealed based on a topographic survey of the river channel, regulated by beaver activity in recent decades. The materials of the paper were obtained during field (geodetic) work in August and September of 2022 in the valleys of two small rivers typical for the north of the Volga Upland, Morkváshinka River (16.6 km) and Morkváshka River (7.8 km), with subsequent statistical processing. According to the results obtained, all the dams we encountered were located in the sections of their channels with relatively small (up to 1%) and medium (1–3%) average gradients. In the upper reaches of the rivers, the expansion of beaver activity is limited to the large gradients of their channels. Along the entire length, there is an alternation of sectors with a “natural” (not regulated by beavers) channel and a cascade of beaver ponds. Drained (at the time of the survey) sectors without dams, as well as those with preserved and destroyed dams, were also identified on the Morkváshinka River. On the whole, 26–48% of the length of the studied rivers has been transformed by beaver activity. The average number of dams per kilometer of the watercourse is 3.7–5.1. The most favorable channel gradients for beaver activity are 3.6–16.6 m/km, or 0.36–1.66%. The average gradient of the channel, above which no beaver dams and related ponds were found in these rivers, is 30 m/km, or 3%. An increase in the channel gradient upstream of the rivers is reflected in the size of beaver dams and ponds. The beaver dams and ponds are slightly larger in the sections of the rivers with a relatively small average gradient than in the sections with a medium average gradient of the channel. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluvial Systems and River Geomorphology)
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27 pages, 32885 KiB  
Article
Remotely Sensed Data, Morpho-Metric Analysis, and Integrated Method Approach for Flood Risk Assessment: Case Study of Wadi Al-Arish Landscape, Sinai, Egypt
by Abdelrahman Khalifa, Bashar Bashir, Abdullah Alsalman, Sambit Prasanajit Naik and Rosa Nappi
Water 2023, 15(9), 1797; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15091797 - 8 May 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2740
Abstract
Evaluating and predicting the occurrence and spatial remarks of climate and rainfall-related destructive hazards is a big challenge. Periodically, Sinai Peninsula is suffering from natural risks that enthuse researchers to provide the area more attention and scientific investigation. Extracted information from the morpho-metric [...] Read more.
Evaluating and predicting the occurrence and spatial remarks of climate and rainfall-related destructive hazards is a big challenge. Periodically, Sinai Peninsula is suffering from natural risks that enthuse researchers to provide the area more attention and scientific investigation. Extracted information from the morpho-metric indices aids in understanding the flood potentiality over various sizes of drainage catchments. In this work, the morpho-metric analysis has been used in order to model the relative signals of flood vulnerability of 16 catchments in northern Sinai. The geospatial technique has been applied to process the digital elevation models (DEMs) in order to produce different analysis maps. Basic geometries, in addition to several morpho-metric indices, were extracted and analyzed by investigating the digital elevation models. Three different effective methods were applied separately to build up three models of flood susceptibility behaviors. Finally, two flood susceptibility signals were defined: the integration method and accurate pixel level conditions models. The integrated method analysis indicates that the western half of the study landscape, including catchments (12, 13, and 14), presents high levels of flood susceptibility in addition to catchment 9 in the eastern half, whereas the other catchments were found to provide moderate levels. The integrated flood susceptibility final map overlaid one of the most effective topographic indices (topographic position index, TPI). The integrated results aided in understanding the link of the general catchments morphometry to the in situ topography for mapping the different flood susceptibility locations over the entire study landscape. Therefore, this can be used for investigating the surface-specific reduction strategy against the impacts of flood hazards in the proposed landscape. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluvial Systems and River Geomorphology)
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20 pages, 3800 KiB  
Article
Geomorphic Changes of the Scott River Alluvial Fan in Relation to a Four-Day Flood Event
by Waldemar Kociuba
Water 2023, 15(7), 1368; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15071368 - 2 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1821
Abstract
A four-day glacier-melt flood (13–16 August 2013) caused abrupt geomorphic changes in the proglacial gravel-bed Scott River, which drains the small (10 km2) Scott Glacier catchment (SW Svalbard). This type of flood occurs on Svalbard increasingly during periods of abnormally warm [...] Read more.
A four-day glacier-melt flood (13–16 August 2013) caused abrupt geomorphic changes in the proglacial gravel-bed Scott River, which drains the small (10 km2) Scott Glacier catchment (SW Svalbard). This type of flood occurs on Svalbard increasingly during periods of abnormally warm or rainy weather in summer or early autumn, and the probability of occurrence grows in direct proportion to the increase in temperature and/or precipitation intensity. In the summer of 2013, during the measurement season, the highest daily precipitation (17 mm) occurred on 13 August. During the following four days, it constituted in total 47 mm, i.e., 50% of the precipitation total for the measurement period of 2013. The largest flood in 20 years was caused by high precipitation with a synchronous rise in temperature from about 1.0 to 8.6 °C. These values exceeded multi-year averages (32 mm and 5.0 °C, respectively) at an average discharge of 0.9 m3/s (melt season mean 1986–2011). These conditions caused a rapid and abrupt response of the river with the dominant (90%) glacier-fed. The increase in discharge to 4.6 m3/s, initiated by the glacial flood, mobilized significant amounts of sediment in the river bed and channel. Geomorphic changes within the alluvial fan as an area of 58,940 m2, located at the mouth of the Scott River, were detected by multi-sites terrestrial laser scanning using a Leica Scan Station C10 and then estimated using Geomorphic Change Detection (GCD) software. The changes found involved 39% of the alluvial fan area (23,231 m2). The flood-induced total area of lowering (erosion) covered 26% of the alluvial fan (6035 m2), resulting in the removal of 1183 ± 121 m3 of sediment volume. During the final phase of the flood, two times more sediment (1919 ± 344 m3) was re-deposited within the alluvial fan surface, causing significant aggradation on 74% of its area (17,196 m2). These geomorphic changes resulted in an average lowering (erosion) of the alluvial fan surface of 0.2 m and an average rising (deposition) of 0.1 m. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluvial Systems and River Geomorphology)
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19 pages, 5506 KiB  
Article
The Impact of Partial Deforestation on Solute Fluxes and Stream Water Ionic Composition in a Headwater Catchment
by Eliza Płaczkowska, Karolina Mostowik, Heye Reemt Bogena and Michael Leuchner
Water 2023, 15(1), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15010107 - 28 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2124
Abstract
To ensure the good chemical status of surface water across Europe, it is necessary to increase research on the comprehensive impact of land use and land cover changes, i.e., deforestation, on the natural environment. For this reason, we used data from 9-year environmental [...] Read more.
To ensure the good chemical status of surface water across Europe, it is necessary to increase research on the comprehensive impact of land use and land cover changes, i.e., deforestation, on the natural environment. For this reason, we used data from 9-year environmental monitoring in the Wüstebach experimental catchment of the TERENO (Terrestrial Environmental Observatories) network to determine the impact of partial deforestation on solute fluxes and stream water ionic composition. In 2013, a partial deforestation experiment was conducted in the study area using a cut-to-length logging method. To this end, two headwater catchments were compared: one partially deforested (22% of the catchment area) and one untreated control catchment. The concentrations of ions in stream water, groundwater, and precipitation were analyzed: Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+, Al3+, Fetot, Mn2+, NO3, SO4, and Cl. Most of the ions (Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, Cl, and SO4) showed decreasing trends in concentrations after deforestation, indicating a dilution effect in stream water due to the reduction of the supply of solutes with precipitation in the open deforested area. The fluxes of these ions decreased by 5–7% in the first year after deforestation, although the stream runoff increased by 5%. In the second year, the decrease in ion fluxes was greater, from 6% to 24%. This finding confirms that only limited soil erosion occurred after the deforestation because the soil was well protected during logging works by covering harvester lanes with branches. Only K+ and NO3 ions showed increasing trends in both concentrations and fluxes in the partially deforested catchment in the first two to three years after deforestation. Spruce die-offs, common in Europe, may decrease the concentration and fluxes of base cations in surface water in a nutrient-limited environment. However, the simultaneous planting of young broad-leaved trees with post-harvesting regrowth could create a nutrient sink that protects the catchment area from nutrient depletion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluvial Systems and River Geomorphology)
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