Effect of instream logs on bank erosion potential: a flume study with a single log

Nuosha Zhang, Ian Rutherfurd, Marco Ghisalberti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


It is well established that riparian trees reduce bank erosion. However, fallen trees can increase bank erosion as the flow is deflected and accelerated between the log and its root-plate and the bank face, increasing the boundary shear stress and eroding the bank. This erosion contributes to hydraulic variability but can also be a concern in restoring wood loads in rivers. In this first quantitative study into this phenomenon, we develop a theoretical hydraulic model to estimate the near-bank velocity around a single log using principles of continuity and energy loss for a range of log characteristics (morphology, angle, distance from the bank) and flow characteristics. Flume experiments support the theoretical model and suggest that a single log can almost double the near-bank velocity. The fractional channel area taken up by the log (blockage ratio) and the distance between the log and the bank are key factors governing the near-bank velocity. The smaller the angle of the log with the bank the lower the erosion rate, but also the further downstream the erosion extends. As the morphology of the log changes after falling into the channel, bank erosion potentially develops quickly, but slows over time; and migrates downstream.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-56
Number of pages14
JournalJournal Of Ecohydraulics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020


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