Flow, morphology and sedimentology of an evolving chute cutoff on the Wabash River, IL-IN

J. A. Zinger, J. Best, B. L. Rhoads, Timothy H. Larson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The development of chute cutoffs and the resulting abandonment of meander bends have a substantial influence on the sedimentary dynamics of floodplains. The incision of a chute cutoff channel can rapidly mobilize a large volume of floodplain sediment. On the other hand, bar formation during bend abandonment and the subsequent deposition of sediment within the oxbow lake are key processes in the production of a heterogeneous floodplain sedimentary architecture. This paper describes the evolution of two recent chute cutoffs on the Wabash River, IL-IN. We follow these cutoffs from their initial incision in 2008-2009 through the early stages of bend abandonment. The volume of floodplain sediment mobilized by erosion of the two cutoff channels is estimated using channel bankline positions determined from RTK-GPS surveys and aerial orthophotographs; this flux is then assessed within the context of the sediment mobilized by lateral migration of bends. Repeat bathymetric surveys and aerial photography capture the evolution of bar forms associated with the chute cutoff, and data from ground-penetrating radar reveal the subsurface structure of the complex assemblage of bars that developed as the chute cutoff system shifted from a predominantly erosional to a mixed depositional-erosional phase. These results are combined with knowledge of chute cutoff hydrodynamics to develop an understanding of the dynamics of sediment exchange between river channels and floodplains at evolving meander bend cutoffs.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAmerican Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
Place of PublicationWashington, DC
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
StatePublished - 2014


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