A cellular model of braided rivers

Journal Article (Journal Article)

A broad sheet of water flowing over non-cohesive sediment typically breaks up into a network of interconnected channels called a braided stream (Fig. 1). The dynamics of such networks are complex; channels migrate laterally, split, rejoin and develop bars, with the flow shifting unpredictably from one part of the network to another. Many processes are known to operate in a braided river1-3, but it is unclear which of these are essential to explain the observed dynamics. We describe here a simple, deterministic numerical model of water flow over a cohesionless bed that captures the main spatial and temporal features of real braided rivers. The patterns arise from local scour and deposition caused by a nonlinear dependence of bedload sediment flux on water discharge. Although the morphology of the resulting network depends in detail on the sediment-transport rule used in the model, our results suggest that the only factors essential for braiding are bedload sediment transport and laterally unconstrained free-surface flow. © 2002 Nature Publishing Group.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Murray, AB; Paola, C

Published Date

  • January 1, 1994

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 371 / 6492

Start / End Page

  • 54 - 57

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0028-0836

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/371054a0

Citation Source

  • Scopus