New study to investigate riverbank collapse

Dec 19, 2013

University of Adelaide researchers have started a new project investigating the conditions for riverbank collapse.

The project stems from the many bank collapses at various parts of the lower River Murray (Blanchetown to Wellington) during the drought years of 2009-2010, when the river was at one metre below and about 2m below its normal level. Some areas remain cordoned off under State Hazard requirements.

"Fortunately no lives were lost during these collapses," says project leader Professor Mark Jaksa, Head of the University's School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering.

"But the issue has caused some ongoing anxiety for those living near and using the river, which is exactly why we want to learn more about riverbank collapse."

The three-year Goyder Institute-funded project is aimed at providing a clear understanding of the processes that trigger collapse.

The River Murray is one of the few river systems in the world that can fall below sea level because of the barrages preventing the inflow of sea water during low river flows. But there is limited recorded evidence of previous collapse incidents.

"At the moment we have some fundamental knowledge gaps in terms of conditions and processes that trigger collapse," says Professor Jaksa. "At the end of the project we should know what are the safe operating levels for the river - allowing management and intervention by State and Local Government - and have established long-term sustainable options for higher risk sites."

The project is a collaboration with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, the University of Sydney and Durham University in the UK through the Goyder Institute for Water Research.

The researchers will develop a numerical model to be able to reliably predict the conditions that may lead to riverbank collapse, and to identify areas that are vulnerable.

They will conduct a regional analysis to correlate collapse incidents with potential triggers, looking at factors that affect the strength of soil and bank including underwater riverbed profiles, soil layer composition and physical properties, and erosion processes.

Other outcomes will include identifying remediation options for repair and protection of affected and vulnerable sites; site-specific sustainable management strategies to ensure public safety; improved river management and policies to avoid critical water levels; and better information for the community and government agencies.

Explore further: Should we all escape to the country during a heatwave?

Related Stories

Scrutinising rivers upstream

Oct 17, 2013

Climate change influences water cycles. Particularly, it has an effect on the natural and socio-economic processes of river basins. Major rivers of the world have their origin in alpine-style mountains. The trouble is that ...

Retrofitting earthquake protection could save lives

Jun 05, 2013

Whether or not a building collapses and claims many lives during an earthquake is a matter of structure and statistics, according to researchers in Turkey. Writing in the International Journal of Emergency Management, civil ...

Chicago water under the microscope

Dec 03, 2013

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory are partnering with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) to find out the typical sources and distribution ...

World's rivers running on empty, paper finds

Nov 26, 2012

(—Four of the world's great rivers, including the Murray Darling, are all suffering from drastically reduced flows as a direct result of water extraction, according to new ANU research.

Recommended for you

Should we all escape to the country during a heatwave?

3 hours ago

A University of Birmingham research project has highlighted the potential health impacts of heatwaves in urbanised areas. By modelling the 2003 heatwave the researchers were able to identify areas where city centres were ...

NASA maps beach tar from California oil pipeline spill

4 hours ago

When an on-land pipeline ruptured north of Santa Barbara, California, on May 19—spilling 105,000 barrels of crude oil onto Refugio State Beach and about 21,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean in the ...

Not all plastics equal

5 hours ago

Ever buy a fish at a pet store that died within days of being put in an aquarium at home?

Carbon capture and storage safety investigated

5 hours ago

A significant step has been made for potential Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) deployment, with the publication of the results from the world's first experiment into the realistic simulation of potential ...

Australia hails 'tremendous' UN barrier reef decision

10 hours ago

Australia Thursday hailed a United Nations decision to keep the Great Barrier Reef off its in danger list as "tremendous", but activists warned more must be done to improve the marine park's health.

Cities, regions, demand bigger climate say

17 hours ago

Leaders of city and regional governments gathered Wednesday in the French city of Lyon, in the grips of a western European heatwave, to demand a bigger stake in the global push to curb global warming.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.