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Experimental evidence for bifurcation angles control on abandoned channel fill geometry

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 sand plugs, 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 an inverse relationship between diversion angle and sand plug length and volume. The resulting sand plug formation is initiated in the flow separation zone at the external bank of the mouth of the diverted channel. Sedimentation in this zone induces a feedback loop leading to sand plug growth, discharge decrease and eventually to channel disconnection. Finally, the formation processes and final complex architecture of sand plugs are described, allowing for a better understanding of their geometry. Although our setup lacks some of the complexity of natural rivers, our results seem to apply at larger scales. Taken into account, these new data will improve fluvial (reservoir) models by incorporating more realistic topography and grain size description in abandoned channels.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02562670
Contributor : Léo Szewczyk <>
Submitted on : Monday, May 4, 2020 - 7:35:29 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, September 24, 2020 - 4:34:27 PM

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Léo Szewczyk, Jean-Louis Grimaud, Isabelle Cojan. Experimental evidence for bifurcation angles control on abandoned channel fill geometry. Earth Surface Dynamics, European Geosciences Union, 2020, 8 (2), pp.275-288. ⟨10.5194/esurf-8-275-2020⟩. ⟨hal-02562670⟩

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