Experimental study on the process of neck cutoff and channel adjustment in a highly sinuous meander under constant discharges

Zhiwei Li, Xinyu Wu, Peng Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Neck cutoff is an essential process limiting evolution of meandering rivers, in particular, the highly sinuous ones. Yet this process is extremely difficult to replicate in laboratory flumes. Here we reproduced this process in a laboratory flume by reducing at the 1/2500 scale the current planform of the Qigongling Bend (centerline length 13 km, channel width 1.2 km, and neck width 0.55 km) in the middle Yangtze River with geometric similarity. In five runs with different constant input discharges, hydraulic parameters (water depth, surface velocity, and slope), bank line changes, and riverbed topography were measured by flow meter and point gauges; and bank line migration and a neck cutoff process were captured by six overhead cameras mounted atop the flume. By analyzing the neck cutoff process, development of the cutoff channel, and adjustment of the old channel to cutoff, we found that (i) bank erosion around the upstream and downstream channel segments of the neck reduced its distance, subsequently increased water head gradient on both sides of the neck inducing the occurrence of neck cutoff in a short time period; (ii) the width of the new cutoff channel increased quickly after neck cutoff because the increased local slope generated a higher unit stream power in the cutoff channel; and (iii) neck cutoff significantly increased bank erosion and channel widening in upstream and downstream channels as it is a gradual process compared with chute cutoff. These results suggest that bank revetment around the Qigongling Bend might be necessary to prevent the abrupt occurrence of natural neck cutoff in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-229
Number of pages15
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019


  • Bank erosion
  • Channel adjustment
  • Flume experiment
  • Meandering channel
  • Neck cutoff

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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