Infilling Abandoned Deltaic Distributary Channels Through Landward Sediment Transport Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractUpon avulsion, abandoned deltaic distributary channels receive water and sediment delivered by a tie channel, overbank flow, and by tidal inundation from the receiving basin. The transport and deposition of sediment arising from this latter input have important impacts on delta development yet are not well constrained from field observations or numerical models. Herein, the Huanghe (Yellow River) delta, China, is used as a case study to evaluate how marinesourced sediment impacts abandoned channel morphology. For this system, artificial deltaic avulsions occur approximately decadally; the abandoned channels are inundated by tides, and deposition of sediment transforms the channel into a mudflat. Field data were collected from a channel abandoned 20 yr ago and included cores that penetrated the tidally deposited mud and antecedent fluvial channel sediment, topography, bathymetry surveys, and detailed time series monitoring of hydrodynamic conditions within the tidal channel and adjacent mudflat. These data are used to validate a model that predicts the rate of accumulation and grain size of sediment delivered from the tidal channel to the mudflat. The thickness of the marinesourced mud differs spatially by an order of magnitude and is primarily impacted by antecedent channel topography. Sediment has aggraded to an elevation approaching mean high tide, which is likely the limit of fill. As this elevation is below antecedent levees, assuming stationary relative sea level, the abandoned channel will remain a topographic low on the delta landscape and is therefore susceptible to reoccupation during future avulsions.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 2.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Carlson, B. N., Nittrouer, J. A., Moodie, A. J., Kineke, G. C., Kumpf, L. L., Ma, H., Parsons, D. R., & Wang, H.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Carlson, BN||Nittrouer, JA||Moodie, AJ||Kineke, GC||Kumpf, LL||Ma, H||Parsons, DR||Wang, H

publication date

  • February 2020