Research highlight

Extreme sedimentation from river cutoffs

Nature Geoscience

September 12, 2011

The erosion of two channels that cut off a meander bend in the Wabash River, USA, released large pulses of sediment, according to a paper published in Nature Geoscience. The sediment was deposited immediately downstream, requiring dredging to restore shipping activity.

Jessica Zinger and colleagues used aerial imagery, GPS mapping and estimates of channel bathymetry to determine the amount of sediment released in two cutoff events in 2008 and 2009. These events led to the formation of smaller channels across the neck of the river bend, providing a more direct path for river flow. They found that the amount of sediment released was a great deal larger than that released by the lateral movement of the river channel.

doi: 10.1038/ngeo1260

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