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The role of bank collapse on tidal creek ontogeny: A novel process-based model for bank retreat

Gong, Zheng, Zhao, Kun, Zhang, Changkuan, Dai, Weiqi, Coco, Giovanni, Zhou, Zeng
Geomorphology 2018 v.311 pp. 13-26
bank erosion, cracking, estuaries, hydrodynamics, models, ontogeny, soil, streams
Bank retreat in coastal tidal flats plays a primary role on the planimetric shape of tidal creeks and is commonly driven by both flow-induced bank erosion and gravity-induced bank collapse. However, existing modelling studies largely focus on bank erosion and overlook bank collapse. We build a bank retreat model coupling hydrodynamics, bank erosion and bank collapse. To simulate the process of bank collapse, a stress-deformation model is utilized to calculate the stress variation of bank soil after bank erosion, and the Mohr-Coulomb failure criterion is then applied to evaluate the stability of the tidal creek bank. Results show that the bank failure process can be categorized into three stages, i.e., shear failure at the bank toe (stage I), tensile failure on the bank top (stage II), and sectional cracking from the bank top to the toe (stage III). With only bank erosion, the planimetric shapes of tidal creeks are funneled due to the gradually seaward increasing discharge. In contrast to bank erosion, bank collapse is discontinuous, and the contribution of bank collapse to bank retreat can reach 85%, highlighting that the expansion of tidal creeks can be dominated by bank collapse process. The planimetric shapes of tidal creeks are funneled with a much faster expansion rate when bank collapse is considered. Overall, this study makes a further step toward more physical and realistic simulation of bank retreat in estuarine and coastal settings and the developed bank collapse module can be readily included in other morphodynamic models.