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Living, Meandering River Constructed

Submitted by on 10 August, 2022 – 4:32 pm
In a feat of reverse engineering, Christian Braudrick University of California at Berkeley and three authors have managed to build and maintain a scale model of life meandering gravel river bed in the laboratory. Their results point to the importance of vegetation to reinforce the banks and, surprisingly, the importance of healthy living sand in the river banks.

The importance of vegetation to stop erosion and strengthening of banks has been known for a long time, but this is the first time it has been scientifically proven as a critical component in loops. The sand is an ingredient usually avoided in stream restoration, as is known to disturb the spawning salmon. However, Braudrick and his colleagues have shown that it is essential to help create point bars and cut blocking canals and pipes – can initiate and tributaries to the detriment of health and the flow of current.

The model is the first for the delicate balance of ingredients of the model of floodplain gravel (sand), fine sediment, vegetation and water are met so that the flow of life and behaved in the way their healthy counterparts in the wild would be 50 to 100 times the size and scale of hours instead of years.

In 130 hours after being launched, this train-set the size (6m x 17m) river eroded its banks and point bars built by depositing sand and gravel to move model in your environment the way parts of the Mississippi River, which in five to seven years.

In nature, this behavior does not only achieves a “picture” navigation with pleasing curves, but it yields Braudrick earth scientist calls “more bang for the investment biological.

“Slowly” generally occurs in streams with moderate slopes and is a common form of river between gun bound mountain rivers and deltas near the ocean. The physics and geology of meandering streams combine to produce the two sides shallow and deeper pools. The diversity of habitat is a more welcoming to maintain a greater diversity of species. This is in contrast to another type of stream with many islands, but more uniform and shallower water called “braided streams.”

Stream restoration science is a very complex and delicate. Because there is no formula for creating loops. Restorers successfully running require almost a sixth sense that everything is correct and establish a sustainable environment in motion and not every stream restored hard. Some extra channels is increasingly braided streams, some stagnate.

Braudrick and his colleagues hope to shed light on the conditions for sustained meandering river side beds. It used a clever combination of painted sand found in the gravel, a lightweight plastic that seems sugar for sand, and alfalfa sprouts that stand in the deep-rooted vegetation such as cottonwoods and willows that grow along of many meandering rivers in the wild.

The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and appears in the September 28, 2009 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Provided by NSF

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