Morphological Evolution and Sediment Partitioning Through a Large Confluence-Diffluence Unit
Abstract:Confluence-diffluence units are key nodes in fluvial systems, controlling local bed morphology, the routing of sediment and water and ultimately defining channel stability and the larger-scale, planform dynamics. The Chaktomuk Junction on the Mekong River is the site of the confluence of the Tonlé Sap and Mekong rivers, as well as the diffluence of the Mekong and Bassac rivers. This junction defines the upstream apex of the Mekong delta. As such, the morphological evolution of this confluence-diffluence over single flood events, and larger temporal scales, determines the partitioning of water and sediment as it enters the Mekong delta, as well as to the critically important ecosystem that is the Tonlé Sap Lake.
Here, we present data from a series of high spatial resolution topographic (Multibeam Echo Sounder), flow (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler) and sub-bottom profiling (Parametric Echo Sounder) surveys undertaken on the Chaktomuk Junction, which reveal the temporal and spatial evolution of this critically important confluence-diffluence unit. We show spatial patterns of morphological change across a range of monsoonal flow stages and at various temporal scales, as well as sub-bottom profiling across the large bars present at the confluence. We also identify the response in the partitioning of the suspended and bedload portions of sediment transport through the confluence-diffluence, and elucidate the implications of this partitioning for the evolution of the downstream channel.