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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Earth Surf. Dynam., 3, 67-86, 2015
http://www.earth-surf-dynam.net/3/67/2015/
doi:10.5194/esurf-3-67-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
28 Jan 2015
A reduced-complexity model for river delta formation – Part 1: Modeling deltas with channel dynamics
M. Liang1,*, V. R. Voller1, and C. Paola2 1Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering, National Center for Earth Surface Dynamics, Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
2Department of Geology and Geophysics, National Center for Earth Surface Dynamics, Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
*now at: Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering and Center for Research in Water Resources, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA
Abstract. In this work we develop a reduced-complexity model (RCM) for river delta formation (referred to as DeltaRCM in the following). It is a rule-based cellular morphodynamic model, in contrast to reductionist models based on detailed computational fluid dynamics. The basic framework of this model (DeltaRCM) consists of stochastic parcel-based cellular routing schemes for water and sediment and a set of phenomenological rules for sediment deposition and erosion. The outputs of the model include a depth-averaged flow field, water surface elevation and bed topography that evolve in time. Results show that DeltaRCM is able (1) to resolve a wide range of channel dynamics – including elongation, bifurcation, avulsion and migration – and (2) to produce a variety of deltas such as alluvial fan deltas and deltas with multiple orders of bifurcations. We also demonstrate a simple stratigraphy recording component which tracks the distribution of coarse and fine materials and the age of the deposits. Essential processes that must be included in reduced-complexity delta models include a depth-averaged flow field that guides sediment transport a nontrivial water surface profile that accounts for backwater effects at least in the main channels, both bedload and suspended sediment transport, and topographic steering of sediment transport.

Citation: Liang, M., Voller, V. R., and Paola, C.: A reduced-complexity model for river delta formation – Part 1: Modeling deltas with channel dynamics, Earth Surf. Dynam., 3, 67-86, doi:10.5194/esurf-3-67-2015, 2015.
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In this work we present DeltaRCM, a reduced-complexity model for river delta formation. It is a rule-based cellular morphodynamic model, in contrast to reductionist models based on detailed computational fluid dynamics. DeltaRCM is able to resolve channel dynamics and to produce stratigraphy. We also explain the meaning of complexity reduction, especially the essential processes to be included in modeling deltas.
In this work we present DeltaRCM, a reduced-complexity model for river delta formation. It is a...
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