River meander behaviour and instability: a framework for analysis

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Abstract

Recent empirical and theoretical work on river meanders suggests that instability is inherent. Within this context, an occurrence of multiple cut-offs could be interpreted as a clustering associated with self-organized criticality. Types of meander behaviour ranging from stable to chaotic are examined as trajectories or attractors within the phase space of rate of meander movement and bend curvature and change to the system is explored as shift from one attractor to another. It is suggested that this new approach provides insights into meander dynamics and provides a basis to identify the conditions, limits and constraints under which different behaviour occurs. Basic controls of energy and resistance underlie planform behaviour, but need to be refined in relation to the morphology and stability of channel courses.

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