Roles of Bank Material in Setting Bankfull Hydraulic Geometry as Informed by the Selenga River Delta, Russia

Tian Y. Dong, Jeffrey A. Nittrouer, Matthew J. Czapiga, Hongbo Ma, Brandon McElroy, Elena Il'icheva, Maksim Pavlov, Sergey Chalov, Gary Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A semi-empirical bankfull Shields number relation as a function of slope, bed, and bank sediment grain size is obtained based on a field data set that includes the delta of the Selenga River, Russia, and other rivers from around the globe. The new Shields number relation is used in conjunction with continuity, flow resistance, and sediment transport equations to deduce predictive relations for bankfull width, depth, and slope of sand-bed rivers. In addition, hydraulic geometry relations are obtained specifically for the Selenga River delta. Key results of this study are as follows: (1) bankfull width is strongly dependent on water discharge and is directly related to bank sediment size; (2) bankfull shear velocity is weakly dependent on bed sediment size and is inversely related to bank sediment size; (3) sand-bed deltas with multiple distributary channels maintain smaller bankfull Shields numbers than is typical of alluvial rivers. This analysis is the first of its kind to include bank sediment size into a predictive bankfull Shields number relation to obtain relations for bankfull hydraulic geometry. The relations presented here can be utilized in morphodynamic models that explore how fluvial and deltaic systems respond to a range of imposed conditions, such as variable base level, sediment, and water supply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-846
Number of pages20
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • bank sediment size
  • bankfull hydraulic geometry
  • bankfull shields number
  • basenet (baikal-selenga network)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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