E3S Web of Conferences (Jan 2018)

Geomorphic effects of gravel augmentation on the Old Rhine River downstream from the Kembs dam (France, Germany)

  • Chardon Valentin,
  • Schmitt Laurent,
  • Piégay Hervé,
  • Arnaud Fanny,
  • Serouilou Jordane,
  • Houssier Jérôme,
  • Clutier Anne

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 40
p. 02028


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During the last 30 years, river restoration activities aiming to improve the functionality of degraded fluvial ecosystems increased markedly. For large rivers, it remains difficult to evaluate restoration efficiency and sustainability due to the lack of standardized monitoring metrics. From 2010 to 2016, three gravel augmentations were performed on the Old Rhine, a by-passed reach downstream from the Kembs dam (France- Germany). A geomorphic monitoring combining topo-bathymetric surveys, bedload tracking and hydraulic modelling allows to evaluate the successfulness of these actions. Results show that, to be mobilized, artificial sediment deposit should be located in concavity rather than convexity areas, due to higher shear stresses for moderate floods (Q2). Sediment starvation appeared rapidly on the restored reaches once the sediment wave moved downstream, as a consequence of limited upstream sediment supply. Bathymetric homogenization was observed along and downstream from the restored reaches without creation of new fluvial forms. This research highlights that future actions should include channel enlargement downstream of gravel augmentations, which would promote sediment deposition and habitat diversification. Sediments excavated during artificial widening could be stored and injected progressively into the upstream part of the Old Rhine to benefit the downstream sections.