Why Rivers Flood - Overbank Flows are Swallowed by Channel Widening in a Laboratory Flume

Pitlick, J.E., Marr, J., and Pizzuto, J.E., in prep. Width adjustment during overbank flows in gravel-bed rivers: a flume study.

Experimental procedure  ...

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Results......after flooding, the channel widens and the bed aggrades slightly until the water surface returns "inbank".

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Implications: rivers tend to widen to accommodate overbank flows.  Widening will remove the possibility of flooding eventually, unless widening is limited by cohesive banks or offset by deposition.

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James Pizzuto

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Professor Geological Sciences

 

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