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The influence of floodplain morphology and river works on spatial patterns of overbank deposition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2016

I. Thonon
Affiliation:
Centre for Geo-ecological Research (ICG) & Netherlands Centre for River Studies (NCR), Departement Fysische Geografie, Faculteit Geowetenschappen, Universiteit Utrecht, Postbus 80115, 3508 TC Utrecht, the Netherlands
H. Middelkoop
Affiliation:
Centre for Geo-ecological Research (ICG) & Netherlands Centre for River Studies (NCR), Departement Fysische Geografie, Faculteit Geowetenschappen, Universiteit Utrecht, Postbus 80115, 3508 TC Utrecht, the Netherlands
M. van der Perk
Affiliation:
Centre for Geo-ecological Research (ICG) & Netherlands Centre for River Studies (NCR), Departement Fysische Geografie, Faculteit Geowetenschappen, Universiteit Utrecht, Postbus 80115, 3508 TC Utrecht, the Netherlands
Corresponding
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Abstract

Floodplain topography and related hydraulic patterns of overbank flow constitute a major control on the amounts and patterns of sediment deposition on floodplains. We studied the differences in sediment deposition at two scales along two river branches of the lower River Rhine in the Netherlands: the Waal and IJssel River. Human alterations like levelling and embankment construction have severely impacted the floodplains along the Waal River branch (average discharge: 1500 m3·s‒1), whereas the relatively wide floodplains along the IJssel River (average discharge: 250 m3·s‒1) still exhibit their characteristic ridge-and-swale topography and natural levees. We found that, in general, the amounts of sediment deposited sediment decreases with increasing distance to the sediment source. Clay and organic matter content generally increase with decreasing floodplain elevation. These trends are, however, far less pronounced in the Waal River floodplains than in the IJssel River floodplains. Sediment deposited on the IJssel River floodplains also contains significantly more sand than the sediment deposited on the Waal River floodplains, probably because of the absence of minor embankments along the IJssel River and its higher sinuosity. Furthermore, during inundation the individual Waal River floodplains receive more sediment per unit area than the IJssel River floodplains. At the scale of the river branch, however, the conveyance losses in the Waal River are less than in the IJssel River, because of the larger surface area of the floodplains along the IJssel River relative to its water and sediment discharge during flood events. This discrepancy stresses that both the individual floodplain sections and the total river branch should be taken into account when studying the role of overbank deposition as part of a river’s sediment budget.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Stichting Netherlands Journal of Geosciences 2007

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