Over a period of several decades, gullies have been observed in various stages of forming, growing and completing the cutoff of meander necks in Powder River. During one episode of overbank flow, water flowing over the down-stream bank of the neck forms a headctu. The headcut migrates up-valley, forming a gully in its wake, until it has traversed the entire neck, cutting off the meander. The river then follows the course of the gully, which is subsequently enlarged as the river develops its new channel. The complete process usually requires several episodes of high water: in only one of the five cases described herein was a meander cutoff initiated and completed during a single large flood.
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Evolution of cutoffs across meander necks in Powder River, Montana, USA