Response of bed morphology and bed material texture to hydrological conditions at an asymmetrical stream confluence

Bruce L. Rhoads, James D. Riley, Daniel R. Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Changes in bed morphology and sedimentology at stream confluences in relation to specific hydrological events have not been documented extensively. Moreover, few, if any, studies have investigated the effect of net hydrological conditions on channel change at a confluence over a period of many years. Repeat cross section surveys and sampling of bed material at a small, asymmetrical stream confluence reveal the short-term effects of hydrological variability on bed morphology and spatial patterns of bed material texture. Survey data over a 15-year period illustrate the long-term response of channel morphology at the confluence to net hydrological conditions. Results confirm that this confluence is a dynamic fluvial environment, involving shifts in the zone of scour and repeated deposition and erosion of a bar complex at the downstream junction corner as the discharge ratio changes in response to hydrological variability in the tributary streams. Persistent faster runoff-response times of the lateral tributary compared to the main stem have resulted in long-term net erosion of the channel bank opposite this tributary. The documented morphological and sedimentological changes are consistent with and can be explained by results of experimental studies and by past investigations at this confluence that have documented changes in patterns of mean flow structure and turbulence in response to variation in the discharge ratio of contributing streams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-173
Number of pages13
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2009


  • Bed material
  • Bed morphology
  • Confluence
  • Hydrology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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