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Bank accretion and the development of vegetated depositional surfaces along modified alluvial channels

January 1, 1991

This paper describes the recovery of stable bank form and development of vegetated depositional surfaces along the banks of channelized West Tennessee streams. Most perennial streams in West Tennessee were straightened and dredged since the turn of the century. Patterns of fluvial ecological responses to channelization have previously been described by a six-stage model. Dendrogeomorphic (tree-ring) techniques allowed the determination of location, timing, amount, and rate of bank-sediment deposition. Channel cross sections and ecological analyses made at 101 locations along 12 streams, encompassing bends and straight reaches, show that channel and bank processes initially react vertically to channelization through downcutting. A depositional surface forms on banks once bed-degradation and heightened bank mass wasting processes have eased or slowed. The formation of this depositional surface marks the beginning of bank recovery from channelization. Dominating lateral processes, characteristic of stable or natural channels, return during the formation and expansion of the depositional surface, suggesting a relation with thalweg deflection, point-bar development, and meanderloop extension. Characteristic woody riparian vegetation begins to grow as this depositional surface develops and becomes part of the process and form of restabilizing banks. The depositional surface initially forms low on the bank and tends to maintain a slope of about 24°. Mean accretion rates ranges from 5.9 cm/yr on inside bends to 0 cm/yr on most outside bends; straight reaches have a mean-accretion rate of 4.2 cm/yr. The relatively stable, convex upward, depositional surface expands and ultimately attaches to the flood plain. The time required for the recovery process to reach equilibrium averaged about 50 years. Indicative pioneer speccies of woody riparian vegetation include black willow, river birch, silver maple, and boxelder. Stem densities generally decrease with time after and initial flush of about 160 stems per 100 m2. Together bank accretion and vegetative regrowth appear to be the most important environmental processes involved in channel bank recovery from channelization or rejuvenation.

    Publication Year 1991
    Title Bank accretion and the development of vegetated depositional surfaces along modified alluvial channels
    DOI 10.1016/0169-555X(91)90023-4
    Authors C. R. Hupp, A. Simon
    Publication Type Article
    Publication Subtype Journal Article
    Series Title Geomorphology
    Index ID 70016703
    Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse