The focus of this project is the meandering of river channels, an iconic phenomenon in geomorphology and a fundamental process of channel morphodynamics. The goal is to advance our understanding of meander morphodynamics in eroding channels enough to develop a general theoretical framework for channel meanders in a variety of environments. A particular focus is the meandering of mixed bedrock-alluvial channels and the role of sediment cover in the mediation of patterns of channel erosion. Such processes are being studied through a combination of field studies, laboratory experiments, numerical simulations and theoretical analysis. Novel aspects of the research include: (i) the study of micro-scale dissolutional meanders in the field and the laboratory as a proxy for macro-scale abrasional meanders, and (ii) the development of meander morphodynamic model whose channel cross-section is not fixed but rather evolves according to a plug-in constitutive equation for erosion rate.
Meandering streams and rivers are a vital part of the natural landscape of the United States and beyond. Over the centuries, many of these rivers have been modified drastically and their crucial environmental role compromised. Remediation of these rivers has become a priority in recent years as the negative effects of such environmental damage have become clear. For remediation to succeed, and for the assessment and management of meandering rivers to be effective, a thorough understanding of channel morphodynamics is needed. The aim of this project is to deepen such understanding and to pass on these advances to the broad community of scientists and engineers interested in the topic.