Influence of experimental removal of large woody debris on spatial patterns of three-dimensional flow in a meander bend

Melinda D. Daniels, Bruce L. Rhoads

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study reports the results of a large woody debris (LWD) removal experiment in a meander bend along a low-energy stream in the Midwestern United States. The LWD obstacle was located in the center of the channel at the bend exit and consisted of a mature tree with an intact soil-covered root wad and a large accumulation of logs, branches and pieces of lumber on top of and adjacent to the main tree. The results indicate that the LWD obstruction influenced 3D flow structure in this bend at all flow stages. The main effect of LWD is to dramatically decelerate flow throughout the majority of the bend, while locally accelerating flow where it passes through the narrow chute at the downstream end of the LWD obstruction. Results from the LWD removal experiment indicate that patterns of three-dimensional flow structure in meander bends are sensitive to complete removal of LWD. After the removal of LWD from the bend, both downstream and secondary velocities increased and, though still weak, secondary flow intensified. Large, relatively stable, obstructions that span a significant portion of the channel may act as natural dams, effectively ponding water upstream of the LWD, thereby producing substantial convective deceleration of the flow. This research is the first to document three-dimensional flow structure before and after a controlled removal of LWD from a meander bend. Studies of the type reported here represent a first step toward determining the ensemble of process interactions between LWD and bend dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-474
Number of pages15
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Large woody debris
  • Meander bend
  • Three-dimensional flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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