Impact of flow variability and sediment characteristics on channel width evolution in laboratory streams

Andrés Vargas-Luna*, Alessandra Crosato, Protogene Byishimo, Wim S.J. Uijttewaal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


Alluvial rivers are shaped by sequences of water flows excavating their channels. Observations show that besides the magnitude, the frequency and duration of streamflow oscillations might also be important for the river channel formation. In addition, the river morphology appears influenced by both size and degree of uniformity of the sediment. Nevertheless, many morphodynamic studies still represent the flow regime with a single value of the discharge, often corresponding to the bankfull condition, and the sediment with its median grain size. This work investigates the effects of streamflow variability and sediment characteristics on channel width formation, analysing the evolution of experimental streams with different sediments and discharge hydrographs. Results show that the formative condition of the channel width is not the geometric bankfull flow but a rather frequent peak flow. Remarkably different channel configurations arise from different sediment characteristics in the laboratory, where sediment non-uniformity produces more stable banks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-61
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hydraulic Research
Volume57 (2019)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • bankfull discharge
  • channel width
  • laboratory experiments
  • River morphodynamics
  • sediment gradation
  • streamflow variability


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