River Processes, Deposits and Environments


This module develops approaches to help understand the fundamental controls on river processes, channel change and depositional systems.

The module draws on latest research as well as classic ideas. The module evaluates the different innovative ways in which fluvial scientists tackle key questions in river research.

A key theme is the interaction between fluvial processes, erosion and deposition. The module initially focuses on the smaller bedform and bar scale, before considering larger channel scale issues and deposits over a range of timescales.

These topics are addressed across a broad range of river systems and scales varying from single grains to whole catchments, and turbulent events to Quaternary changes.

Topics to be covered will include:

  • Techniques for measurement, Turbulent Boundary Layer (TBL) structure, methods of shear stress determination
  • Flow separation, types of secondary flows, confluence dynamics, shear layers.• TBL structure, coarse sediment entrainment, and the initiation of bedforms
  • Types of bedforms and bar forms in rivers: generative mechanisms, self-organization, dynamics and stability, deposits
  • Sedimentology of bedforms, bars and channels; alluvial architecture of braided and meandering systems; preservation potential of sediments


  • Research project
  • Examination

Key skills

  • Communication (written project report and exam answers)
  • Numeracy (data analysis using Excel)
  • Problem solving (determining methodology for project data analysis)
  • Planning and organising (completing coursework to deadline)