Water and sediment distribution by river bifurcations is often highly unbalanced. This may result from a variety of factors, such as migration of bars, channel curvature and backwater effects, which promote an uneven partition of flow and sediment fluxes in the downstream branches, which we call ‘forcings’. Bifurcations also display an intrinsic instability mechanism that leads to unbalanced configurations, as occurs in the idealized case of a geometrically symmetric bifurcation, which we call ‘free’, provided the width-to-depth ratio of the incoming flow is large enough. Most frequently, these free and forced mechanisms coexist; however, their controlling roles in bifurcation dynamics have not been investigated so far. In this paper we address this question by proposing a unified free-forced modelling framework for bifurcation morphodynamics. Upstream channel curvature and different slopes of downstream branches (slope advantage) are specifically investigated as forcing effects typically occurring in bifurcations of alluvial channels. The modelling strategy is based on the widely used two-cell model of Bolla Pittaluga et al. (Water Resources Research, 2003, 39(3), 1–13), here extended to account for the spatially non-uniform fluxes entering the bifurcation node. Results reveal that the relative role of free and forced mechanisms depends on the width-to-depth ratio falling above or below the resonant threshold that controls the stability of free bifurcations: when the main channel is relatively wide and shallow (super-resonant regime) the bifurcation invariably evolves towards unbalanced configurations, whatever the combination of curvature and slope advantage values, which instead control the bifurcation response under sub-resonant conditions. Detection of the resonant aspect ratio as a key threshold also releases the modelling approach from the need for parameter calibration that characterized previous approaches, and allows for interpreting under a unified framework the opposite behaviours shown by gravel-bed and sand-bed bifurcations for increasing Shields parameter values. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Free and forced morphodynamics of river bifurcations / Redolfi, Marco; Zolezzi, Guido; Tubino, Marco. - In: EARTH SURFACE PROCESSES AND LANDFORMS. - ISSN 0197-9337. - ELETTRONICO. - 2019:44(2019), pp. 973-987. [10.1002/esp.4561]

Free and forced morphodynamics of river bifurcations

Redolfi, Marco;Zolezzi, Guido;Tubino, Marco
2019

Abstract

Water and sediment distribution by river bifurcations is often highly unbalanced. This may result from a variety of factors, such as migration of bars, channel curvature and backwater effects, which promote an uneven partition of flow and sediment fluxes in the downstream branches, which we call ‘forcings’. Bifurcations also display an intrinsic instability mechanism that leads to unbalanced configurations, as occurs in the idealized case of a geometrically symmetric bifurcation, which we call ‘free’, provided the width-to-depth ratio of the incoming flow is large enough. Most frequently, these free and forced mechanisms coexist; however, their controlling roles in bifurcation dynamics have not been investigated so far. In this paper we address this question by proposing a unified free-forced modelling framework for bifurcation morphodynamics. Upstream channel curvature and different slopes of downstream branches (slope advantage) are specifically investigated as forcing effects typically occurring in bifurcations of alluvial channels. The modelling strategy is based on the widely used two-cell model of Bolla Pittaluga et al. (Water Resources Research, 2003, 39(3), 1–13), here extended to account for the spatially non-uniform fluxes entering the bifurcation node. Results reveal that the relative role of free and forced mechanisms depends on the width-to-depth ratio falling above or below the resonant threshold that controls the stability of free bifurcations: when the main channel is relatively wide and shallow (super-resonant regime) the bifurcation invariably evolves towards unbalanced configurations, whatever the combination of curvature and slope advantage values, which instead control the bifurcation response under sub-resonant conditions. Detection of the resonant aspect ratio as a key threshold also releases the modelling approach from the need for parameter calibration that characterized previous approaches, and allows for interpreting under a unified framework the opposite behaviours shown by gravel-bed and sand-bed bifurcations for increasing Shields parameter values. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Redolfi, Marco; Zolezzi, Guido; Tubino, Marco
Free and forced morphodynamics of river bifurcations / Redolfi, Marco; Zolezzi, Guido; Tubino, Marco. - In: EARTH SURFACE PROCESSES AND LANDFORMS. - ISSN 0197-9337. - ELETTRONICO. - 2019:44(2019), pp. 973-987. [10.1002/esp.4561]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11572/225526
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