River Mechanics

Our river mechanics program focuses on water runoff from hillslopes to the oceans. Hillslope processes interface with geology, climatology and hydrology to determine water runoff and sediment sources from upland areas. Our interests include micro channels on farmlands and large river channels that shape landforms and human society.

Mountain streams with boulder-, cobble- and gravel-beds are studied in terms of morphology hydraulic roughness, stability and morphodynamics, as are sand-bed rivers at lower elevations. Sand-bed rivers display unique features in terms of spatial and temporal changes in bedform geometry and resistance to flow from plane bed to dunes. We focus on rivers in terms of various perspectives: flood wave propagation, dam-break failures, flood control, river-bank stabilization, hydraulic structures, river crossings, and fluvial infrastructure. Currently, we are investigating problems regarding water quality and erosion associated with deforestation and forest fires.

Also, we investigate the dynamic responses of rivers to changes in channel planform geometry. River engineering often involves river systems, inland navigation, waterways, shoaling, water quality and wetlands. Our research can be multi-disciplinary, where we work with biologists to define the habitat requirements for diverse aquatic species. Solutions to water quality problems in rivers require knowledge of the processes and modeling of advection, mixing and dispersion processes.

Computer models are extensively used by us to simulate flows in alluvial river reaches. We also use physical models of complex river systems to investigate changes in planform geometry, grain sorting, bed forms and vegetation. CSU’s Hydraulics Laboratory is a wonderful resource for our studies.

Our current or recent research also includes the following topics

More detailed information can be found at the research webpages of
Dr. Pierre Julien (http://www.engr.colostate.edu/~pierre/ce_old/Projects/index.html)


Braided channel morphology:

Braided channel morphology


Modeling channel deformation:

Meandering Evolution


River bank protection on the Sacramento River:

River bank protection


Modeling sediment transport on large watersheds:

Total Suspended Solids


Destructive debris flow in Venezuela:

Destructive debris