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New Research on River Migration Rates
Led by the University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences

New Research on River Migration Rates

Hundreds of meandering rivers found in the Amazon Rainforest, just like this one pictured, were studied using satellite imagery in order to deduce how river bends correlate to river migration across the landscape.
lubasi [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Back in 2006, Timothy J. Randle, of the U.S. Department of the Interior, published an in-depth guide on the migration of river channels, in which he begins by stating, "The migration of river channels across their floodplains and the occasional erosion of terrace banks is a natural process."

Landscape architects and planners have to take this natural movement of meandering rivers into account when developing in floodplains or other related areas. And new research out of Texas, led by Zolt??n Sylvester from the Bureau of Economic Geology on the campus of UT Jackson, found that, according to" onclick="''); return false;)" target="_blank">, the prevailing wisdom on how river bends and river migration relate is over thinking it, and in fact the relationship is fairly straight forward.

"When we look at the rivers we have studied, the sharper the bend, the tighter the bend, the faster it moves," he said. "It's a simple relationship."

New Research on River Migration Rates

Here is the equation for bank erosion rate, which is very much related to river migration, as seen in Randle's document. This is to give you a visual example of how complex these types of calculations can be.

Reportedly, previous ideologies pertaining to river migration put a cap on how much curvature in the flow would influence the migration rate of the river across the landscape. Now, the new notion is that there is no cap, and actually, the sharper the bend in the river the more erosion that occurs and subsequently the more the river migrates.

The research was conducted by analyzing satellite images of hundreds of rivers in the Amazon Basin in South America. You can check out the full article on HERE (

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August 26, 2019, 3:15 am PDT

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