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Completed projects

Paraná-Paraguay

The
Challenge

The World’s ten largest rivers drain 17% of the total land area of the Earth and deliver around 1/3 of the sediment that reaches the oceans.

Despite their importance, our knowledge of the morphology, fluid dynamics, sediment transport mechanics and sedimentology of large rivers is wholly inadequate. Evidence is now emerging that the dominant processes and deposits of large rivers may be fundamentally different to those of small rivers and may therefore be different to currently accepted wisdom.

The
Approach

Lead researchers

dan-parsons

Project funded by

nerc-logo

Project partners

CECOAL

ExxonMobil

FICH

Fulcrum Graphic Communications Inc.

INALI

RESON

Durham University

University of Birmingham

University of Brighton

University of Illinois

University of Southampton

A multi-disciplinary, international team working in collaboration with industry and local partners investigated one of the World's largest rivers, the Paraná-Paraguay in Argentina, to understand: (1) what controls water and sediment movement and river channel changes over time; and (2) what this means for the formation and preservation of river sedimentary deposits.

It used: (1) Single and multibeam echosounding and acoustic Doppler current profiling to map river bed morphology and its evolution through time, and measure the three-dimensional patterns of water and sediment movement around and over channel bars; (2) Ground Penetrating Radar to map the three-dimensional sedimentary structure of braid-bar deposits, both within the current river and in formerly active areas that have been abandoned over the past few thousand years; and (3) Coupled depth-integrated physically-based and reduced-complexity numerical models to determine channel evolution and deposit sedimentology over periods of centuries to millennia.

The Impact

This project generated the World's first comprehensive database on how the morphology of a large river changes through time, obtained concurrently with data on what drives those changes and what this means for the formation of sedimentary deposits.

Other completed research projects