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Flow and sediment processes in a cutoff meander of the Danube Delta during episodic flooding

Abstract : This article analyzes the water and suspended solid fluxes through a straightened meander of the southern branch of the Danube Delta (the St. George branch) during episodic flooding. The Mahmudia study site corresponds to a vast natural meander which was cut off in 19841988 by an artificial canal opened to shipping. The meander correction accelerated fluxes through the artificial canal and dramatically enhanced deposition in the former meander. After his formation, the cutoff meander acted as sediment storage locations, essentially removing channel and point bar sediments from the active sediment budget of the main channel. Increases in slope and stream power in reaches upstream and downstream have also occurred, but to a lesser degree. During the one-hundred-year recurrent flood in April 2006, bathymetry, flow velocity and discharge data were acquired across several sections of both natural and artificial channels with an acoustic Doppler current profiler (aDcp Workhorse Sentinel 600 kHz, Teledyne RDI) in order to investigate the distribution of the flow and sediment and his impact on sedimentation in a channelized reach and its adjacent cutoff. The contrasting hydro-sedimentary processes at work in both channels and bifurcation/ confluence nodal points are analyzed from the measured flux distribution, morphological profiles and velocity and concentration patterns. In the cutoff, a diminishing of the intensity of the flow velocity (c. 50%) and of the SSC was observed correlated with the aggradation of the river bed. In the bifurcation/confluence nodal points and in the artificial canal were observed the most intensive hydrodynamic activity (high flow velocity, SSC concentration, degradation of the river bad). Both the event-scale and long-term morphological trends of the alluvial system are discussed analyzing the boundary shear stress and SSC variability. Excess boundary shear stress in the sub-reaches directly affected by cutoffs resulted in scour that increased downstream bed material load. These high sediment loads play a key role in driving morphological adjustments towards equilibrium in the cutoff channel. The approach followed in this paper combines detailed episodic in-situ aDcp measurements and robust numerical 1D modeling in order to provide a practical comprehension of the relevant morphodynamical processes. The 1D model reproduces robustly the continuity of hydrodynamical variables along the streamwise axes of the two-channel network. The simulated are used in the paper for highlighting reachscale morphological processes, at both event and long-term scales.
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L.J. Tiron, J. Le Coz, M. Provansal, N. Panin, G. Raccasi, et al.. Flow and sediment processes in a cutoff meander of the Danube Delta during episodic flooding. Geomorphology, Elsevier, 2009, 106 (3-4), p. 186 - p. 197. ⟨10.1016/j.geomorph.2008.10.016⟩. ⟨hal-01058765⟩

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