Experimental steep, braided flow: Application to flooding risk on fans

Dan Cazanacli, Chris Paola, Gary Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Flooding processes occuring on alluvial fans are considerably different from those occurring along single thread rivers with well defined floodplains. Active erosion, rapid sedimentation, and the uncertainty in flow path make the prediction of flood evolution and extent difficult. Based on a large scale experiment, this study investigates the long term evolution of the flow on a steep, noncohesive sediment surface resembling a complex of merged alluvial fans. The results are pertinent to the assessment of flooding hazard on alluvial fans. At any given time, the average flow occupancy was 21% of the surface. However, the flow was characterized by active channel switching and overflow processes. The percentage of the surface remaining dry was found to decay harmonically with time. A reworking time was defined as the time at which half of the surface that was initially dry remained dry, whereas the other half was inundated at least once. An empirical expression was developed in which reworking time is proportional to the average cross sectional area of flow and inversely proportional to the sediment supply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-330
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hydraulic Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2002


  • Alluvial fans
  • Flood plains
  • Floods


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