Sedimentation in the floodplains of the Mekong Delta, Vietnam Part II: deposition and erosion

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Abstract

Deposition and erosion play a key role in the determination of the sediment budget of a river basin, as well as for floodplain sedimentation. Floodplain sedimentation, in turn, is a relevant factor for the design of flood protection measures, productivity of agro-ecosystems, and for ecological rehabilitation plans. In the Mekong Delta, erosion and deposition are important factors for geomorphological processes like the compensation of deltaic subsidence as well as for agricultural productivity. Floodplain deposition is also counteracting the increasing climate change induced hazard by sea level rise in the delta. Despite this importance, a sediment database of the Mekong Delta is lacking, and the knowledge about erosion and deposition processes is limited. In the Vietnamese part of the Delta, the annually flooded natural floodplains have been replaced by a dense system of channels, dikes, paddy fields, and aquaculture ponds, resulting in floodplain compartments protected by ring dikes. The agricultural productivity depends on the sediment and associated nutrient input to the floodplains by the annual floods. However, no quantitative information regarding their sediment trapping efficiency has been reported yet. The present study investigates deposition and erosion based on intensive field measurements in three consecutive years (2008, 2009, and 2010). Optical backscatter sensors are used in combination with sediment traps for interpreting deposition and erosion processes in different locations. In our study area, the mean calculated deposition rate is 6.86 kg/m2 (≈ 6 mm/year). The key parameters for calculating erosion and deposition are estimated, i.e. the critical bed shear stress for deposition and erosion and the surface constant erosion rate. The bulk of the floodplain sediment deposition is found to occur during the initial stage of floodplain inundation. This finding has direct implications on the operation of sluice gates in order to optimize sediment input and distribution in the floodplains. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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