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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2019-79
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2019-79
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 20 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 20 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

Experimental evidences for bifurcation angles control on abandoned channel fill geometry

Léo Szewczyk, Jean-Louis Grimaud, and Isabelle Cojan Léo Szewczyk et al.
  • MINES ParisTech, PSl Research University, Centre de Géosciences, 35 rue St Honoré 77305 Fontainebleau Cedex, France

Abstract. The nature of abandoned channels sedimentary fills has a significant influence on the development and evolution of floodplains and ultimately on fluvial reservoir geometry. A control of bifurcation geometry (i.e., bifurcation angle) on channel abandonment dynamics and resulting channel fills, such as sandplug, has been intuited many times but never quantified. In this study we present a series of experiments focusing on bedload transport designed to test the conditions for channel abandonment by modifying the bifurcation angle between channels, the flow incidence angles and the differential channel bottom slopes. We find that disconnection is possible in the case of asymmetrical bifurcations with high diversion angle (≥ 30°) and quantify for the first time a relationship between diversion angle and sandplug length and volume. The resulting sandplug formation is initiated in the flow separation zone at the external bank of the mouth of the diverted channel. Sedimentation in this zone initiates a feedback loop leading to sandplug growth, discharge decrease and eventually to channel disconnection. Finally, the formation processes and final complex architecture of sandplugs are described, allowing for a better understanding of their geometry. Although our setup lacks the complexity of natural rivers, our results seem to apply at larger scales. Taken into account, these new data will improve the realism of fluvial models.

Léo Szewczyk et al.

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Léo Szewczyk et al.

Léo Szewczyk et al.

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