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Downstream hydraulic geometry of a tidally influenced river delta

Authors

  • M. G. Sassi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University, Netherlands
      Corresponding author: M. G. Sassi, Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 4, Wageningen NL-6700 AA, Netherlands. (maximiliano.sassi@wur.nl)
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  • A. J. F. Hoitink,

    1. Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University, Netherlands
    2. Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht/IMAU, Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, Netherlands
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  • B. de Brye,

    1. Institute of Mechanics, Materials and Civil Engineering, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
    2. Earth and Life Institute, Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
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  • E. Deleersnijder

    1. Institute of Mechanics, Materials and Civil Engineering, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
    2. Earth and Life Institute, Georges Lemaître Centre for Earth and Climate Research, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
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Corresponding author: M. G. Sassi, Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 4, Wageningen NL-6700 AA, Netherlands. (maximiliano.sassi@wur.nl)

Abstract

[1] Channel geometry in tidally influenced river deltas can show a mixed scaling behavior between that of river and tidal channel networks, as the channel forming discharge is both of river and tidal origin. We present a method of analysis to quantify the tidal signature on delta morphology, by extending the hydraulic geometry concept originally developed for river channel networks to distributary channels subject to tides. Based on results from bathymetric surveys, a systematic analysis is made of the distributary channels in the Mahakam Delta (East Kalimantan, Indonesia). Results from a finite element numerical model are used to analyze the spatial variation of river and tidal discharges throughout the delta. The channel geometry of the fluvial distributary network scales with bifurcation order, until about halfway the radial distance from the delta apex to the sea. In the seaward part of the delta, distributary channels resemble funnel shaped estuarine channels. The break in morphology, which splits the delta into river- and tide-dominated parts, coincides with a break in the ratio between tidal to fluvial discharges. Downstream hydraulic geometry exponents of the cross-sectional area show a transition from the landward part to the seaward part of the delta. The numerical simulations show that the tidal impact on river discharge division at bifurcations increases with the bifurcation order, and that the variation of river discharge throughout the network is largely affected by the tides. The tidal influence is reflected by the systematic variation of downstream hydraulic geometry exponents.

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