National Research Program


River Mechanics

The geometry and pattern of river channels adjust to significant changes in the water discharge, size, and quantity of sediment supplied to the channel. When the quantity of water and sediment over a period of years remains relatively constant, the channel geometry and pattern vary about a mean of quasi-equilibrium conditions. Major watershed alterations that change the supply of water, sediment, and size of sediment reaching the channel necessitate an adjustment of the channel geometry and pattern. That is, the channel is transformed from one quasi-equilibrium state to another. Between the two quasi-equilibrium states, there is a period of instability and adjustment. The dynamics and rate of river channel adjustment during the period of instability have rarely been studied, and are rather poorly understood. The primary focus of this research project is to understand the dynamics and rate of river channel change and develop numerical models to make predictions of river channel characteristics given a particular change in flow regime and sediment supply. The greatest deficiencies in our present knowledge of river channel adjustment are (1) the longitudinal sorting of bed material, especially gravel, (2) the formation and stability of bed forms, (3) adjustment of channel width through the erosion and deposition of bank material, and (4) the rates at which the several hydraulic variables adjust. Specific objectives are to develop physically-based numerical models to describe the processes and rate at which a river channel adjusts in response to a change in the water discharge, sediment size, and sediment load supplied to the channel, emphasizing the adjustment of those aspects of river channels that significantly influence the aquatic ecosystem (that is the bed-material size distribution, occurrence of bars, and channel width); describe the hydraulic processes controlling these characteristics of river channel as well as the rate at which they function; formulate mathematical models of the processes as required for longitudinal routing of water and sediment; and develop new analytical tools for describing river-channel adjustment. For additional informationon wildfire studies: see Hydrologic and Erosional Responses of Burned Watersheds.

REPORTS PUBLISHED 2002-2009

Andrews, E.D. and Antweiler, R.C., in press, Sediment fluxes from California coastal rivers -The influences of climate, geology and topography.: Journal of Geology.

Gaeuman, D., Andrews, E.D., Kraus, A., and Smith, W., 2009, Predicting fractional bed load transport rates: Application of the Wilcock-Crowe equations to a regulated gravel bed river: Water Resources Research, v. 45, W06409, doi:10.1029/2008WR007320. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Moody, J.A., and Martin, D.A., 2009, Forest fire effects on geomorphic processes, in Cerdá, A., and Robichaud, P., eds., Fire Effects on Soils and Restoration Strategies: Science Publishers, Inc, Enfield,New Hampshire, USA, p. 41-79.

Moody, J.A., and Martin, D.A., 2009, Synthesis of sediment yields after wildland fire in different rainfall regimes in the western United States: International Journal of Wildland Fire, v. 18 no. 1, p. 96-115. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Vincent, K. R., Friedman, J. M., and Griffin, E. R., 2009, Erosional consequence of saltcedar control: Environmental Management, v. 44, no. 2, p.  218-227. doi:10.1007/s00267-009-9314-8 (on-line abstract or on-line article in pdf format, 486 KB, published as a U. S. Government work by SpringerLink)

Alpers, C.N., Stewart, A.R., Saiki, M.K., Marvin-DiPasquale, M.C., Topping, B.R., Rider, K.M., Gallanthine, S.K., Kester, C.A., Rye, R.O., Antweiler, R.C., and De Wild, J.F., 2008, Environmental factors affecting mercury in Camp Far West Reservoir, California, 2001–03: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5008, 358 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 3.16 MB)

Kinner, D.A., and Moody, J.A., 2008, Infiltration and Runoff Measurements on Steep Burned Hillslopes Using a Rainfall Simulator with Variable Rain Intensities : U.S. Geological Survey, Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5211, 64 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 20.7 MB)

Meade, R.H., and Moody, J.A., 2008, Changes in the discharge of sediment through the Missouri-Mississippi River system, 1940-2007: Encontro Nacional de Engenharia de Sedimentos, 8th, Campo Grande, Brazil, 2-8 November 2008, Proceedings, 27 p. [On CD only -- no print publication]

Moody, J.A., Martin, D.A., and Cannon, S.H., 2008, Post-wildfire erosion response in two geologic terrains in the western USA: Geomorphology, v. 95, p. 103-118. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Moody, J.A., Martin, D.A., Haire, S.L., and Kinner, D. A., 2008, Linking runoff response to burn severity after wildfire: Hydrological Processes, v. 22, no. 13, p. 2063-2074. (on-line abstract or on-line article in pdf format, 640 KB, a US Government work in the public domain)

Moody, J.A., and Meade, R.H., 2008, Terrace aggradation during the 1978 flood on Powder River, Montana, USA: Geomorphology, v. 99, p. 387-403. (on line abstract of journal article)

Pizzuto, J.E., Moody, J.A., and Meade, R.H., 2008, Anatomy and dynamics of a floodplain, Powder River, Montana, U.S.A .: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 78, no. 1, p. 16-28. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Vincent, K.R., and Andrews, E.D., 2008, Depositional settings of sand beaches along whitewater rivers: River Research and Applications, v. 24, p. 771-788. DOI: 10.1002/rra.1079. (on-line abstract or on-line paper in pdf format, 394 KB, pubhished by John Wiley as a U. S. Government work in the public domain)

Andrews, E.D. and Vincent, K.R., 2007, Sand deposition in shoreline eddies along five Wild and Scenic Rivers, Idaho. River Research and Applications, v. 23, no. 1, p. 7-20. (on-line abstract or on-line article in pdf format, 603 KB - published on-line in 2006 by John Wiley & Sons as a U.S. Governement work in the public domain)

McKnight, D.M., Tate, C.M., Andrews, E.D., Niyogi, D.K., Cozzetto, K.L., Welch, K., Lyons, W.B., and Capone, D.G., 2007, Reactivation of a cryptobiotic stream ecosystem in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, antartica - a long term geomorphological experiment: Geomorphology, v. 89, p. 186-204. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Friedman, J.M., Auble, G.T., Andrews, E.D., Kittel, G., Madole, R.F., Griffin, E.R., and Allred, T.M., 2006, Transverse and longitudinal variation in woody riparian vegetation along a montane river: Western North American Naturalist, v. 66, no. 1, p. 78-91.

Moody, J.A., and Kinner, D.A., 2006, Spatial sructures of stream and hillslope drainage networks following gully erosion after wildfire: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, v. 31, no. 3, p. 319-337. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Kinner, D.A., and Moody, J.A., 2005, Drainage networks after wildfire: International Journal of Sediment Research, v. 20, no. 3, p. 194-201.

Monroe, S.A., Antweiler, R.C., Hart, R.J., Taylor, H.E., Truini, M., Rihs, J.R., and Felger, T.J., 2005, Chemical characteristics of ground-water discharge along the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 2000-2001: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5146, 59 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 37.2 MB)

Moody, J.A., Smith, J.D., Ragan, B.W., 2005, Critical shear stress for erosion of cohesive soils subjected to temperatures typical of wildfires: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 110, no. F1. (on-line abstract)

Andrews, E.D., Antweiler, R.C., Neiman, P.J., and Ralph, F.M., 2004, Influence of ENSO on flood frequency along the California Coast: Journal of Climate, v. 17, no. 2, p. 337-348. (on-line abstract)

Doerr, S.H., and. Moody, J.A., 2004, Hydrological effects of soil water repellency: on spatial and temporal uncertainties: Hydrological Processes, v. 18, no. 4, p. 829-832.

Meade, R.H., 2004, Engineering works and their effects on movement and storage of sediment in Mississippi River and its major tributaries, in Hu, C.-h, and Tan, Y., eds., Proceedings of the Ninth International Symposium on River Sedimentation, October 18-21, 2004, Yichang, China: Beijing, Tsinghua University Press, v. 1, p. 154-161.

Moody, J.A., and Martin, D.A., 2004, Wildfire impacts on reservoir sedimentation in the western United States, in Hu, C.-h, and Tan, Y., eds., Proceedings of the Ninth International Symposium on River Sedimentation, October 18-21, 2004, Yichang, China: Beijing, Tsinghua University Press, p. 1095-1102.

Richey, J.E., Victoria, R.L., Mayorga, E., Martinelli, L.A., and Meade, R.H., 2004, Case study 1, Integrated analysis of a humid tropical region--The Amazon basin, in Kabat, P., Claussen, M., Dirmeyer, P.A., Gash, J.H., de Guenni, L.B., Meybeck, M., Pielke, R.A., Sr., Worosmarty, C.J., Hutjes, R.W.A., and Lutkemeier, S., eds., Vegetation, water, humans and the climate--A new perspective on an interactive system: Berlin, Springer Verlag, p. 415-428.

Andrews, E.D., Nolan, K.M., Wiele, S.M., 2003, Technical review of portions of the Department of the Interior's Trinity River Restoration Plan concerning sediment transport and the management of spawning gravels: U.S. Geological Survey, Administrative Report, 28 p.

Moody, J.A., 2003, Geomorphic and hydrologic observations of Lewis and Clark: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 04-03. (on-line fact sheet)

Moody, J.A., Meade, R.H., and Jones, D.R., 2003, Lewis and Clark's observations and measurements of geomorphology and hydrology, and changes with time: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1246, 110 p. (link to viewing Circular on-line as .DJVU or as a group of images)

Ralph, F.M., Neiman, P.J., Kingsmill, D.E., Persson, P.O.G., White, A.B., Strem, E.T., Andrews, E.D., and Antweiler, R.C., 2003, The impact of a prominent rain shadow on flooding in California's Santa Cruz Mountains: A CALJET case study and sensitivity to the ENSO cycle: Journal of Hydrometeorology, v. 4, no. 6, p. 1243-1264. (on-line abstract)

Richey, J.E., Victoria, R.L., Mayorga, L.A., and Meade, R.H., 2003, Integrated analysis of a humid tropical region - the Amazon Basin, in Kubat, P., and others, eds., Vegetation, water, humans, and the climate: Berlin, Springer, p. 415-428.

Moody, J.A., Meade, R.H., and Martinson, H.A., 2002, Erosion and deposition of sediment at channel cross sections on Powder River between Moorhead and Broadus, Montana, 1980-98: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Reprot 02-4219, 310 p.

Moody, J.A., and Troutman, B.M, 2002, Characterization of the spatial variability of channel morphology: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, v. 27, no. 12, p. 1251-1266. (on-line abstract)


For additional bibliographic citations by Ron Antweiler, also see Research in Analytical Trace Chemistry and Its Impact on Water Quality

For additional bibliographic citations by Eleanor Griffin, also see Flow and Sediment Mechanics.

For additional bibliographic citations by John Moody, also see Mathematical Modeling Principles

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Edmund D. Andrews, Scientist Emeritus
U.S. Geological Survey, 3215 Marine St., Boulder, CO 80303
Email: eandrews@usgs.gov
Telephone: 303-541-3002

For information on additional projects in the National Research Program, see Indexes to NRP projects and bibliographies.

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