Importance of bank erosion for sediment input, storage and export at the catchment scale

Abstract

Purpose

The importance of bank erosion was quantified during three periods (October 2006–April 2007, May 2007–April 2008 and May 2008–April 2009) in the 486 km2 catchment area of River Odense, Denmark. A catchment sediment budget was established including other sediment sources such as tile drains and surface runoff, in-channel and overbank sinks and storage and the resulting bed load and suspended sediment load exported from the catchment.

Material and methods

Bank erosion and sedimentation were measured using ca. 3,000 erosion pins established in 180 pin plots, each consisting of three vertical lines of pins. Thirty-six representative reaches, each with a length of 100 m, were selected by a stratified random procedure in GIS. Bed load and suspended sediment export from the catchment were measured using a bed load sampler and from continuous measurements of turbidity at the outlet gauging station.

Results and discussion

The gross sediment input from bank erosion during the three study periods amounted to 21,100–25,200 t in the River Odense catchment, which is considerably higher than the estimated input of sediment from tile drains and surface runoff, which amounted to 220–500 t and 0–100 t, respectively. The measured bed load (20–490 t) was five to 60 times lower than the suspended sediment export from the catchment (1,240–2,620 t) during the three study periods, with the largest difference occurring in the driest year. Sediment sinks and storage were of high importance for the catchment sediment budget as the measured in-channel storage of sediment on stream banks was as high as 16,200–20,100 t, and the overbank sediment sink was estimated at 360–3,100 t.

Conclusions

Bank erosion was the dominant sediment source (90–94 %) in the River Odense catchment during the three study years. In-channel and overbank sediment sinks and storage dominated the sediment budget as 79–94 % of the sediment input from all sources was not exported from the catchment during the three study years. Such a large attenuation of sediment in river channels and on floodplains is extremely important for fluvial habitats and ecology. Moreover, it has strong implications for attempts to document changes in sediment export following implementation of mitigation measures.

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Acknowledgements

The work was supported by the Neighbours and the Environment Research Programme project ’BUFFALO-P’ and the Strategic Research Foundation project MONITECH (grant no. 2104-08-0050).

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Correspondence to Brian Kronvang.

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Responsible editor: Ian Foster

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Kronvang, B., Andersen, H.E., Larsen, S.E. et al. Importance of bank erosion for sediment input, storage and export at the catchment scale. J Soils Sediments 13, 230–241 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-012-0597-7

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Keywords

  • Bank erosion
  • Fluvial sediment
  • Sediment budget
  • Storage