About the project:

Owing to their extraordinary natural resources and ecosystem services, deltaic coastlines host over a half billion people. Societal sustainability on these coastal landscapes is far from certain, however, due to strong anthropogenic influences including sediment-supply reduction, accelerated subsidence from sub-surface fluid extraction, and leveeing of rivers. The crucial resource in building sustainable societies on deltaic coastlines is sediment, and the key control on sediment delivery, whether natural or engineered, is river channel avulsion. Our overarching goal is to build predictive models for coastal sustainability bringing together the mechanics of avulsion on deltas, associated channel-shoreline interaction, socio- economic response to natural and engineered avulsions, and the resulting coupled human-natural system dynamics. This project is a multi-investigator, cross disciplinary and integrative effort to build mechanistic models for deltaic coastline dynamics, and to develop engineering and socioeconomic tools to inform sustainability, decision making and governance, as well as citizen education and outreach. Our natural laboratory is the Huanghe delta, China, one of the most dynamic and heavily urbanized coastal landscapes in the world. We utilize the active record of human-landscape interactions, and the furious pace of present-day dynamics on the Huanghe delta through sedimentological analyses, active fluvial and coastal-process measurements, physical experiments, and socioeconomic and engineering modeling.

Time-lapse video of the Yellow River delta (1984-2015) .Between 1976 and 1996 the active lobe extended ~20 km toward the Bohai Sea. In 1996 flow was redirected north and a new lobe extended seaward. The high sediment load of the Yellow River drives rapid dynamics. Video courtesy Francois Ayoub, CalTech.


Ganti, V., Zhongxin, C., Lamb, M. P., and J. A. Nittrouer (2014) “Testing morphodynamic controls on the location and frequency of river avulsions on fans and deltas: Huanghe (Yellow River), China”, Geophysical Research Letters. 10.1002/2014GL061918

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