American Society of Civil Engineers

Analysis of River Meanders

by Howard H. Chang, M.ASCE, (Prof., Dept. of Civ. Engrg., San Diego State Univ., San Diego, CA 92182)

Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, Vol. 110, No. 1, January 1984, pp. 37-50, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Discussion: by Pierre Y. Julien and et al.    (See full record)
Discussion: by A. Rylands Thomas    (See full record)
Closure:(See full record)
Abstract: The meander curvature and other geometric features for rivers are analyzed using an energy approach together with relations for flow continuity, sediment load, resistance to flow, bank stability, and transverse circulation in channel bends. The analysis establishes the maximum curvature for which a river does the least work in turning. This curvature, stated as the radius of curvature to channel width ratio, has an average value of 3; it shows only minor variation within the meandering range. Meandering development is explained by the river’s tendency to seek minimum channel slope for the given conditions. The analysis demonstrates how uniform utilization of power and continuity of sediment load are maintained through river meanders.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Alluvial fans
Fluvial hydraulics
Meandering streams