Abstract

In recent years, many investigations (for example, Williams and Rust, 1969; Smith, 1970, 1970, 1974; Eynon and Walker, 1974; Hein and Walker, 1977) have described different aspects of the hydrology and sedimentology of braided rivers, and Miall (1977) has summarized the present state of knowledge in this field. Most of the studies undertaken, however, have concentrated on details of sediment stratification and bar formation; therefore, they are very limited in extent when compared to the overall size of a braided rier, which may be of the order of 1 km wide. It is thus impossible to appreciate from these works the behavior of the river as a whole. Howard and others (1970), Krumein and Orme (1972), Brice (1964), Fahnestock (1963), and Fahnestock and Bradley (1974) have attempted more extensive descriptions of braided rivers, but it is clear from their work that the instantaneous mapping of a significant areal extent of a braided river is a matter of extreme difficult and that this difficulty is compounded by the rapid change of the channel pattern at high flows. To understand the evolution of braided rivers, it is necessary to acquire detailed records covering at least one and preferably many annual flow series. The analysis of such records, once acquired, is a further point of difficulty. The complexity of the channel network necessitates the manipulation of vast amounts of data, and it appears that the only realistic solution may lie in the use of aerial photography and computer analysis. If such a study could be completed, however, the results would be of immense interest not only to sedimentologists but also to engineers involved in the control and utilization of large braided rivers.

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