Coastal wetlands are nourished by rivers and periodical tidal flows through complex, interconnected channels. However, in hydrodynamic models, channel dimensions with respect to model grid size and uncertainties in topography preclude the correct propagation of tidal and riverine signals. It is therefore crucial to enhance channel geomorphic connectivity and simplify sub‐channel features based on remotely sensed networks for practical computational applications. Here, we utilize channel networks derived from diverse remote sensing imagery as a baseline to build a ∼10 m resolution hydrodynamic model that covers the Wax Lake Delta and adjacent wetlands (∼360 km2) in coastal Louisiana, USA. In this richly gauged system, intensive calibrations are conducted with 18 synchronous field‐observations of water levels taken in 2016, and discharge data taken in 2021. We modify channel geometry, targeting realism in channel connectivity. The results show that a minimum channel depth of 2 m and a width of four grid elements (approximatively 40 m) are required to enable a realistic tidal propagation in wetland channels. The optimal depth for tidal propagation can be determined by a simplified cost function method that evaluates the competition between flow travel time and alteration of the volume of the channels. The integration of high spatial‐resolution models and remote sensing imagery provides a general framework to improve models performance in salt marshes, mangroves, deltaic wetlands, and tidal flats.
We examine variations in discharge exchange between two parallel, 1‐ to 2‐km‐wide tidal channels (the Shibsa and the Pussur) in southwestern Bangladesh over spring‐neap, and historical timescales. Our objective is to evaluate how large‐scale, interconnected tidal channel networks respond to anthropogenic perturbation. The study area spans the boundary between the pristine Sundarbans Reserved Forest, where regular inundation of the intertidal platform maintains the fluvially abandoned delta plain, and the anthropogenically modified region to the north, where earthen embankments sequester large areas of formerly intertidal landscape. Estimates of tidal response to the embankment‐driven reduction in basin volume, and hence tidal prism, predict a corresponding decrease in size of the mainstem Shibsa channel, yet the Shibsa is widening and locally scouring even as the interconnected Pussur channel faces rapid shoaling. Rather, the Shibsa has maintained or even increased its pre‐polder tidal prism by capturing a large portion of the Pussur's basin via several “transverse” channels that are themselves widening and deepening. We propose that an enhanced tidal setup in the Pussur and the elimination of an effective Shibsa‐Pussur flow barrier are driving this basin capture event. These results illustrate previously unrecognized channel interactions and emphasize the importance of flow reorganization in response to perturbations of interconnected, multichannel tidal networks that characterize several large tidal delta plains worldwide.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. 2141-2159
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Deltaic river networks naturally reorganize as interconnected channels move to redistribute water, sediment, and nutrients across the delta plain. Network change is documented in decades of satellite imagery and laboratory experiments, but our ability to measure and understand channel movements is limited: existing methods are difficult to employ efficiently and struggle to distinguish between gradual movements (channel migration) and abrupt shifts in river course (channel avulsions). Here, we present a method to extract channel migration from plan‐view imagery using particle image velocimetry (PIV). Although originally designed to track particles moving in a fluid, PIV can be adapted to track channels moving on the delta surface, based on input estimates of channel width, migration timescale, and maps of the wet‐dry interface. Results for a delta experiment show that PIV‐derived vector fields accurately capture channel‐bank movements, as compared to manually drawn maps and an independent image‐registration technique. Unlike other methods, PIV targets the process of channel migration, excluding changes associated with channel avulsions and overbank flow. PIV‐derived migration rates from the experiment span an order of magnitude and are reduced under lower sediment supply and during sea‐level rise, supporting recent models. Together, results indicate that PIV offers a fast and reliable way to measure channel migration in river networks, that channel migration rates under non‐cohesive conditions can displace channels a distance comparable to their width in the time needed to aggrade ∼10% of the channel depth, and that migration direction is ∼60% orthogonal to mean flow direction and ∼40% flow‐parallel overall.
The Upper Cretaceous (Campanian–Maastrichtian) bioclastic wedge of the Orfento Formation in the Montagna della Maiella, Italy, is compared to newly discovered contourite drifts in the Maldives. Like the drift deposits in the Maldives, the Orfento Formation fills a channel and builds a Miocene delta‐shaped and mounded sedimentary body in the basin that is similar in size to the approximately 350 km2large coarse‐grained bioclastic Miocene delta drifts in the Maldives. The composition of the bioclastic wedge of the Orfento Formation is also exclusively bioclastic debris sourced from the shallow‐water areas and reworked clasts of the Orfento Formation itself. In the near mud‐free succession, age‐diagnostic fossils are sparse. The depositional textures vary from wackestone to float‐rudstone and breccia/conglomerates, but rocks with grainstone and rudstone textures are the most common facies. In the channel, lensoid convex‐upward breccias, cross‐cutting channelized beds and thick grainstone lobes with abundant scours indicate alternating erosion and deposition from a high‐energy current. In the basin, the mounded sedimentary body contains lobes with a divergent progradational geometry. The lobes are built by decametre thick composite megabeds consisting of sigmoidal clinoforms that typically have a channelized topset, a grainy foreset and a fine‐grained bottomset with abundant irregular angular clasts. Up to 30 m thick channels filled with intraformational breccias and coarse grainstones pinch out downslope between the megabeds. In the distal portion of the wedge, stacked grainstone beds with foresets and reworked intraclasts document continuous sediment reworking and migration. The bioclastic wedge of the Orfento Formation has been variously interpreted as a succession of sea‐level controlled slope deposits, a shoaling shoreface complex, or a carbonate tidal delta. Current‐controlled delta drifts in the Maldives, however, offer a new interpretation because of their similarity in architecture and composition. These similarities include: (i) a feeder channel opening into the basin; (ii) an excavation moat at the exit of the channel; (iii) an overall mounded geometry with an apex that is in shallower water depth than the source channel; (iv) progradation of stacked lobes; (v) channels that pinch out in a basinward direction; and (vi) smaller channelized intervals that are arranged in a radial pattern. As a result, the Upper Cretaceous (Campanian–Maastrichtian) bioclastic wedge of the Orfento Formation in the Montagna della Maiella, Italy, is here interpreted as a carbonate delta drift.
Upon avulsion, abandoned deltaic distributary channels receive water and sediment delivered by a tie channel, overbank flow, and by tidal inundation from the receiving basin. The transport and deposition of sediment arising from this latter input have important impacts on delta development yet are not well constrained from field observations or numerical models. Herein, the Huanghe (Yellow River) delta, China, is used as a case study to evaluate how marine‐sourced sediment impacts abandoned channel morphology. For this system, artificial deltaic avulsions occur approximately decadally; the abandoned channels are inundated by tides, and deposition of sediment transforms the channel into a mudflat. Field data were collected from a channel abandoned 20 yr ago and included cores that penetrated the tidally deposited mud and antecedent fluvial channel sediment, topography, bathymetry surveys, and detailed time series monitoring of hydrodynamic conditions within the tidal channel and adjacent mudflat. These data are used to validate a model that predicts the rate of accumulation and grain size of sediment delivered from the tidal channel to the mudflat. The thickness of the marine‐sourced mud differs spatially by an order of magnitude and is primarily impacted by antecedent channel topography. Sediment has aggraded to an elevation approaching mean high tide, which is likely the limit of fill. As this elevation is below antecedent levees, assuming stationary relative sea level, the abandoned channel will remain a topographic low on the delta landscape and is therefore susceptible to reoccupation during future avulsions.
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