Autogenic Scour and Channel Widening in Sharp Bends of the River Mahakam

Friday, 19 December 2014: 1:40 PM
Ton Hoitink1, Bart Vermeulen1, Sonja van Berkum1, Hidayat Hidayat1,2 and Robert Jan Labeur3, (1)Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands, (2)Centre for Limnology, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Cibinong, Indonesia, (3)Delft University of Technology, Department of Hydraulic engineering, Delft, Netherlands
Field evidence of the River Mahakam reveals autogenic scour and channel widening in a series of sharp bends. An integral analysis of a 300 km reach of the river is presented, including a comprehensive survey of the river banks, delineation of the river corridor from radar observations, Large Eddy Simulations of observed flow patterns, and a geometric analysis of planform and depth information. Scour depths strongly exceed what can be expected based on existing understanding of sharp bends, and are highly correlated with curvature. Histograms of the occurrence of erosive, stable, advancing, and bar-type banks as a function of curvature quantify the switch from a mildly curved bend regime to a sharp bend regime. In mild bends, outer banks erode and inner banks advance. In sharp bends the erosion pattern inverts. Outer banks stabilize or advance, while inner banks erode. In sharply curved river bends, bars occur near the outer banks that become less erosive for higher curvatures. Inner banks become more erosive for higher curvatures, but nevertheless accommodate the larger portion of exposed bars. Soil processes may play a crucial role in the formation of sharp bends, which is inferred from iron and manganese concretions observed in the riverbanks, indicating ferric horizons and early stages of the formation of plinthic horizons. Historical topographic maps show the planform activity of the river is low, which may relate to the scours slowing down planimetric development. The occurrence of exceptionally deep scours is attributed to downflow near the scour exceeding 12 cm/s, increasing the bed shear stress. The downflow, in turn, is explained from the cross-sectional area increase, which is shown to be important in generating adverse surface gradients driving flow recirculation in the Large Eddy Simulations. Strong secondary flow distorts the vertical pressure distribution that is no longer hydrostatic. The downflow advects longitudinal momentum, moving the core of the flow to the bed of the channel.