National Research Program

Fluvial Processes and River Mechanics

Many difficult problems in river mechanics may have stemmed from inadequate understanding of the multiplicity and interaction of fluvial processes. Some of the problems may have been solved, but in a very simplified, approximate way. Many efforts have been directed, but without apparent success, to fully account for the causes, occurrences, and mechanisms of catastrophic events, such as flash floods, debris flows, and channel changes resulting from torrential storms, sudden snow or glacier melt, dam break, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. Such failures may be partially attributed to the deficiency and incompleteness of existing empirical formulas (or models) representing the relationships between various processes and responses. Project objectives are to seek a full understanding of various fluvial processes on hillslopes and in river channels, which undergo changes in response to rapid disturbances, such as torrential storms, sudden snow or glacier melt, dam break, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes; improve or generalize existing empirical formulas that do not accurately describe the process- response relationships.; develop new relationships for various soils and highly-concentrated sediment-water mixtures, such as those posed in the form of rheological or constitutive equations; build mathematical models, using such relationships, for flash floods, debris flows, channel changes, etc; and ultimately apply these models to minimize the loss of life and property that may result from such catastrophic events.

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

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