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Floodplain development in an engineered setting

Singer, Michael Bliss ORCID: and Aalto, Rolf 2009. Floodplain development in an engineered setting. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 34 (2) , pp. 291-304. 10.1002/esp.1725

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Engineered flood bypasses, or simplified conveyance floodplains, are natural laboratories in which to observe floodplain development and therefore present an opportunity to assess delivery to and sedimentation within a specific class of floodplain. The effects of floods in the Sacramento River basin were investigated by analyzing hydrograph characteristics, estimating event-based sediment discharges and reach erosion/deposition through its bypass system and observing sedimentation patterns with field data. Sediment routing for a large, iconic flood suggests high rates of sedimentation in major bypasses, which is corroborated by data for one bypass area from sedimentation pads, floodplain cores and sediment removal reporting from a government agency. These indicate a consistent spatial pattern of high sediment accumulation both upstream and downstream of lateral flow diversions and negligible sedimentation in a ‘hydraulic shadow’ directly downstream of a diversion weir. The pads located downstream of the shadow recorded several centimeters of deposition during a moderate flood in 2006, increasing downstream to a peak of ∼10 cm thick and thinning rapidly thereafter. Flood deposits in the sediment cores agree with this spatial pattern, containing discrete sedimentation layers (from preceding floods) that increase in thickness with distance downstream of the bypass entrance to several decimeters thick at the peak and then thin downstream. These patterns suggest that a quasi-natural physical process of levee construction by advective overbank transport and deposition of sediment is operating. The results improve understanding of the evolution of bypass flood control structures, the transport and deposition of sediment within these environments and the evolution of one class of natural levee systems.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0197-9337
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 13:36

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