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Large Rivers: Geomorphology and Management

Avijit Gupta (Editor)
ISBN: 978-0-470-84987-3
712 pages
February 2008
Large Rivers: Geomorphology and Management (0470849878) cover image
Large Rivers: Geomorphology and Management explores an important topic in geomorphology and sedimentology: the form and function of major rivers. Our knowledge of the big rivers of the world is limited. It is currently difficult to recognise large rivers of the past from relict sedimentary deposits or to structure management policies for long international rivers. 

This exciting book brings together a set of papers on large rivers of the world, as a unique introduction to a demanding subject. The book includes thirty chapters and is organised into three sections. The first part is on the environmental requirements for creating and maintaining a major river system. The second is a collection of case studies on 14 large rivers from different continents, covering a range of physical environments. The third section includes chapters on the measurement and management of large rivers. 

  • First book to offer in a single volume state-of-the-art knowledge on management and geomorphology of large rivers of the world
  • A pioneering study, pushing the boundaries of our knowledge related to big rivers
  • Includes comprehensive case studies covering the major large rivers of the world including Amazon, Mississippi, Nile, Congo, Indus, and Mekong
  • Written by a leading team of distinguished, international contributors
Large Rivers: Geomorphology and Management is essential reading for postgraduate students and researchers in fluvial geomorphology, hydrology, sedimentary geology, and river management. It is also of relevance to engineers and environmental consultants in the private and public sectors working on major rivers of the world.
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Preface xvii

List of Contributors xix

1 Introduction 1
Avijit Gupta

1.1 A Book on Large Rivers 1

1.2 What is a Large River? 2

1.3 The Book and its Content 2

PART I: BACKGROUND

2 Geology of Large River Systems 7
Sampat K. Tandon and Rajiv Sinha

2.1 Introduction 7

2.2 Tectonic Settings of Large River Systems 8

2.3 Complexity of Drainage Types 11

2.4 Large Rivers – Climatic Settings and Climatic Variability 13

2.5 Modern Large Rivers – Hydrology and Sediment Dispersal 15

2.6 Variability in the Alluvial Architecture of Large River Systems 17

2.7 Growth and Development of Large River Systems 21

2.8 Duration of Large River Systems and the Rock Record 22

2.9 Sea Level, Tectonic and Climatic Controls on the Large River Systems 22

2.10 Concluding Remarks 24

3 Hydrology and Discharge 29
Ellen E. Wohl

3.1 Hydrology of Large River Basins 29

3.2 Large Rivers of the Equatorial Regions 32

3.3 Large Rivers of the Drylands 35

3.4 Rivers of the Mid-latitudes 37

3.5 Rivers Draining South from the Himalaya 37

3.6 Rivers of East and Southeast Asia 38

3.7 High-latitude Rivers 39

3.8 Summary 40

4 Transcontinental Moving and Storage: The Orinoco and Amazon Rivers Transfer the Andes to the Atlantic 45
Robert H. Meade

4.1 Introduction 45

4.2 Andean Sources and Alluvial Storage 45

4.3 Orinoco 47

4.4 Amazon 49

4.5 The Amazon Goes to Sea 57

4.6 Coda 59

5 Greatest Floods and Largest Rivers 65
Victor R. Baker

5.1 Introduction 65

5.2 Historical Background 65

5.3 Terrestrial Glacial Megafl oods 66

5.4 Extraterrestrial Megafl oods and Megarivers 71

5.5 Conclusion 72

6 Classifi cation, Architecture, and Evolution of Large-River Deltas 75
Kazuaki Hori and Yoshiki Saito

6.1 Introduction 75

6.2 Defi nition of a Delta and Delta Components 77

6.3 Classifi cation of Deltas 79

6.4 Morphology and Sediment 82

6.5 Delta Evolution 87

6.6 Problems of Sediment Supply 90

6.7 Concluding Remarks 91

7 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy of Large River Deposits: Recognition in the Ancient Record, and Distinction from 'Incised Valley Fills' 97
Christopher R. Fielding

7.1 Introduction 97

7.2 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy of Modern Big Rivers 100

7.3 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy of Ancient Big Rivers 103

7.4 Discussion: Ancient Big River Deposits vs ‘Incised Valley Fills' 105

7.5 Conclusion 107

PART II: CASE STUDIES

8 Effects of Tectonism, Climate Change, and Sea-level Change on the Form and Behaviour of the Modern Amazon River and its Floodplain 115
Leal A.K. Mertes and Thomas Dunne

8.1 Background 115

8.2 Amazon Basin Characteristics 116

8.3 Lithologic and Tectonic Infl uences on the Modern Amazon 117

8.4 Infl uence of Climate Change on the Amazon River 132

8.5 Infl uence of Sea-Level Changes on the Amazon River and Floodplain 135

8.6 Conclusion 139

9 The Mississippi River System 145
James C. Knox

9.1 Introduction 145

9.2 Cenozoic Drainage Evolution 145

9.3 Infl uence of Quaternary Glaciations 148

9.4 Proglacial Lakes and Extreme Floods 150

9.5 Response of the Lower Mississippi Valley to Upper Valley Glaciation and Flooding 151

9.6 The Mississippi River System during the Holocene 153

9.7 Morphology of the Mississippi River 162

9.8 Modern Hydrology 167

9.9 The Mississippi River System: Summary and Outlook 174

10 The Colorado River 183
John C. Schmidt

10.1 Introduction 183

10.2 Physiography 186

10.3 Age of the River 189

10.4 Gradient, Valley Width, and Channel Form in the Colorado Plateau 191

10.5 Hydrology: Pre-dam 193

10.6 Hydrology: Post-dam 196

10.7 Pre-Dam and Post-Dam Sediment Yield and Sediment Transport 200

10.8 Channel Adjustment and Change During the Twentieth Century 203

10.9 Implications of Hydrology, Sediment Transport, Channel Change, and Temperature to the Endemic Fishery 211

10.10 Environmental Management of the Modern River 215

10.11 The Future 217

10.12 Conclusion 219

11 The Lena River: Hydromorphodynamic Features in a Deep Permafrost Zone 225
Francois Costard and Emmanuele Gautier

11.1 Introduction 225

11.2 Description of the Lena Drainage Basin 225

11.3 A Periglacial Environment 227

11.4 Floodplain, Delta and Periglacial Landforms 227

11.5 Fluvial Dynamics and Landforms 227

11.6 Thermal Erosion and its Impact on the Fluvial Forms 231

11.7 Impact of Climatic Change on the Hydrosystem 232

11.8 Conclusion 232

12 The Danube: Morphology, Evolution and Environmental Issues 235
Denes Loczy

12.1 Introduction 235

12.2 Water and Sediment 235

12.3 Headwaters of the Danube 238

12.4 The Danube: a Description 239

12.5 The Danube Delta 242

12.6 The Evolution of the Valley of the Danube 245

12.7 Human Impacts 254

13 The Nile: Evolution, Quaternary River Environments and Material Fluxes 261
Jamie C. Woodward, Mark G. Macklin, Michael D. Krom and Martin A. J. Williams

13.1 Introduction 261

13.2 Nile Basin River Environments 263

13.3 Early Origins and the Late Miocene and Pliocene Nile 265

13.4 The Late Pleistocene and Holocene Nile 268

13.5 Records of Nile River Behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea 273

13.6 The Modern Nile: Hydrology and Geomorphology 274

13.7 The Suspended Sediment Budget 279

13.8 The Nile Delta and the Eastern Mediterranean 284

13.9 River Basin Management and Global Change 287

14 The Congo River, Central Africa 293
Jurgen Runge

14.1 Introduction 293

14.2 The Course of the Congo River 293

14.3 Geology and Geomorphology of the Congo Basin 299

14.4 Evolution of the Congo River 302

14.5 The Flow Regime of the Congo 303

14.6 Solid, Suspended, and Dissolved Load 303

14.7 The Congo Mouth and the Submarine Canyon 306

14.8 The Congo River and its Economic Importance 307

14.9 Conclusion 308

15 The Zambezi River 311
Andy E. Moore, Fenton P.D. (Woody) Cotterill, Mike P.L. Main and Hugh B. Williams

15.1 Introduction 311

15.2 The Zambezi River System 313

15.3 Hydrology 317

15.4 Ecological Impact of Major Dams 320

15.5 Evolution of the Zambezi River System 321

15.6 Drainage Evolution and Speciation 328

15.7 Cultural and Economic Aspects 330

15.8 Conclusion 330

16 The Geographic, Geological and Oceanographic Setting of the Indus River 333
Asif Inam, Peter D. Clift, Liviu Giosan, Ali Rashid Tabrez, Muhammad Tahir, Muhammad Moazam Rabbani and Muhammad Danish

16.1 Introduction 333

16.2 The Drainage Basin 334

16.3 The River 335

16.4 Evolution of the Indus River 335

16.5 The Indus Delta 336

16.6 Submarine Indus System 338

16.7 Water Management 339

16.8 The Indus Dolphins 341

16.9 Environmental Changes 342

16.10 Human-Induced Changes in the Indus Delta 342

16.11 Conclusion 344

17 The Ganga River 347
Indra B. Singh

17.1 Introduction 347

17.2 Hydrology 347

17.3 Water Quality 353

17.4 Sediment Transfer in the Ganga 353

17.5 Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Sediments 355

17.6 Heavy Metals and Pollutants in the Sediment 356

17.7 The Plain and the River 356

17.8 The Delta 362

17.9 A Summary of Current Geomorphic Processes 365

17.10 Quaternary Evolution of the Ganga 366

17.11 Utilization of the River and Associated Problems 367

18 Erosion and Weathering in the Brahmaputra River System 373
Sunil K. Singh

18.1 Introduction 373

18.2 The Brahmaputra River System 373

18.3 Geology of the Basin 375

18.4 Hydrology 377

18.5 Floods in the Brahmaputra 378

18.6 Characteristics of the Brahmaputra Channel 381

18.7 Erosion and Weathering 382

18.8 Sediment Yield or Erosion Rates in the Various Zones 386

18.9 Chemical Weathering and Erosion 386

18.10 Bed Load and Weathering Intensity 389

18.11 Control of Physical and Chemical Erosion in the Brahmaputra Basin 389

18.12 Conclusion 391

19 The Brahmaputra-Jamuna River, Bangladesh 395
James L. Best, Philip J. Ashworth, Maminul H. Sarker and Julie E. Roden

19.1 Background 395

19.2 Channel Scale Morphology and Historical Changes in the Course of the Brahmaputra-Jamuna River 399

19.3 Bedform Types and Dynamics 405

19.4 Bifurcations, Offtakes and Confl uences 413

19.5 Floodplain Sedimentation 414

19.6 Sedimentology of the Jamuna River 418

19.7 Applied Geomorphology and Engineering in the Jamuna River 423

19.8 Summary 427

20 The Mekong River: Morphology, Evolution, Management 435
Avijit Gupta

20.1 Introduction 435

20.2 The Mekong Basin 437

20.4 The Mekong Over Time: The Geomorphic History 449

20.5 Erosion and Sediment Transfer 450

20.6 The Mekong and its Basin: Resource and Management 451

20.7 Conclusion 453

21 Dynamic Hydrology and Geomorphology of the Yangtze River 457
Zhongyuan Chen, Kaiqin Xu and Masataka Watanabe

21.1 Basin Geology and Landforms 457

21.2 River Morphology 460

21.3 Storage and Transfer of Water and Sediment 460

21.4 Large-scale River Management – Three Gorges Dam and the Planned Water Transfer 467

PART III: MEASUREMENT AND MANAGEMENT

22 The Nile River: Geology, Hydrology, Hydraulic Society 471
M. Gordon Wolman and Robert F. Giegengack

22.1 Introduction 471

22.2 Physiography 471

22.3 Geologic History 475

22.4 Climate and Climate Change 477

22.5 Hydrology 481

22.6 A Unique Record 484

22.7 The Nile and Hydraulic Civilizations 485

23 Patterns and Controls on Historical Channel Change in the Willamette River, Oregon, USA 491
Jennifer Rose Wallick, Gordon E. Grant, Stephen T. Lancaster, John P. Bolte and Roger P. Denlinger

23.1 Introduction 491

23.2 An Approach for Interpreting Multiple Impacts on Large Rivers 493

23.3 Geologic Setting, Human and Flood History of the Willamette 495

23.4 Data and Methods for Measuring Historical Channel Change 501

23.5 Results: Patterns and Controls on Historical Channel Changes 503

23.6 Discussion, Narrative of Historical Channel Change 507

23.7 Conclusion 513

24 Rivers And Humans – Unintended Consequences 517
Stanley A. Schumm

24.1 Introduction 517

24.2 Armour 517

24.3 Hydrology 524

24.4 Conclusion 532

25 Large Rivers from Space 535
Leal A.K. Mertes and T. Tamuka Magadzire

25.1 Introduction 535

25.2 Basin Characteristics 536

25.3 Valley Confi guration 537

25.4 Geomorphology 539

25.5 Water-Surface Elevation, Gradient and Discharge 542

25.6 Water Extent and Inundation Mapping 542

25.7 Mapping Sediment Concentration 542

25.8 Zambezi River – Water Type Mapping on Floodplains 546

25.9 Thermal Properties 546

25.10 Change Detection 548

26 Channel Geometry Analysis Technique for the Lower Mississippi River 553
Philip J. Soar, Colin R. Thorne, Oliver P. Harmar, David S. Biedenharn and C. Fred Pinkard

26.1 Introduction 553

26.2 Context 554

26.3 Data Acquisition and Pre-Processing 556

26.4 Analytical Approach and Methodology 560

26.5 Results 563

26.6 Interpretation and Commentary 563

26.7 Conclusion 569

27 The Management of Large Rivers: Technical and Political Challenges 571
Ian C. Campbell

27.1 Introduction 571

27.2 The Challenges of River Management 574

27.3 Management of Rivers in Developing Countries 581

27.4 Conclusion 583

28 The Physical Diversity and Assessment of a Large River System: The Murray-Darling Basin, Australia 587
Martin C. Thoms, Scott C. Rayburg and Melissa R. Neave

28.1 Introduction 587

28.2 The Murray-Darling Basin 588

28.3 The Science Challenge for Assessing Rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin 591

28.4 Assessing the Physical Condition of Rivers at the Catchment Scale 596

28.5 The Physical Condition of Rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin 598

28.6 The Geography of Disturbance 603

28.7 Conclusion 604

29 Climatic and Anthropogenic Impacts on Water and Sediment Discharges from the Yangtze River (Changjiang), 1950–2005 609
Kehui Xu, John D. Milliman, Zuosheng Yang and Hui Xu

29.1 Introduction 609

29.2 Physical Setting 610

29.3 Data and Methods 611

29.4 Spatial Variations of Water and Sediment 611

29.5 Temporal Variations of Water and Sediment 613

29.6 Discussion – Climatic and Anthropogenic Impacts 616

29.7 Future Change and Coastal Responses 621

29.8 Climatic and Anthropogenic Impacts on Other Global Rivers – The Mississippi Example 622

29.9 Conclusion 622

30 Large River Systems and Climate Change 627
Michael D. Blum

30.1 Introduction 627

30.2 A Brief History of Ideas 627

30.3 Fluvial Response to Climate Change: Some General Concepts 631

30.4 Fluvial Response to Past Climate Change: Contrasting Examples 638

30.5 Epilogue: Large Rivers and Climate Change, Past to Future 649

References 656

Index 661

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Avijit Gupta, School of Geography, University of Leeds, UK, and Visiting Scientist, Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing, National University of Singapore.
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