Dam construction and its impact on downstream fluvial processes may substantially alter ambient bank stability, floodplain inundation patterns, and channel morphology. Most of the world's largest rivers have been dammed, which has prompted management efforts to mitigate dam effects. Three high dams (completed between 1953 and 1963) occur along the Piedmont portion of the Roanoke River, North Carolina; just downstream, the lower part of the river flows across largely unconsolidated Coastal Plain deposits. To document bank erosion rates along the lower Roanoke River, more than 700 bank erosion pins were installed along 124 bank transects. Additionally, discrete measurements of channel bathymetry, water clarity, and presence or absence of mass wasting were documented along the entire 153-kilometer-long study reach. Amounts of bank erosion in combination with prior estimates of floodplain deposition were used to develop a bank erosion and floodplain deposition sediment budget for the lower river. Present bank erosion rates are relatively high [mean 42 milimeters per year (mm/yr)] and are greatest along the middle reaches (mean 60 mm/yr) and on lower parts of the bank on all reaches. Erosion rates were likely higher along upstream reaches than present erosion rates such that erosion rate maxima have migrated downstream. Mass wasting and water clarity also peak along the middle reaches.
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USGS Numbered Series
Bank Erosion, Mass Wasting, Water Clarity, Bathymetry and a Sediment Budget Along the Dam-Regulated Lower Roanoke River, North Carolina