30 Mar 2023
 | 30 Mar 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

Knickpoints and Fixpoints: The Evolution of Fluvial Morphology under the Combined Effect of Fault Uplift and Dam Obstruction on a Soft Bedrock River

Hung-En Chen, Yen-Yu Chiu, Chih-Yuan Cheng, and Su-Chin Chen

Abstract. Rapid changes in river geomorphology can occur after being disturbed by external factors like earthquakes or large dam obstructions. Studies documenting the evolution of river morphology under such conditions have advanced our understanding of fluvial geomorphology. The Dajia River in Taiwan presents a unique example of the combined effects of a coseismic fault (the 1999 Mw 7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake) and a dam. As a result of the steep terrain and abundant precipitation, rivers in Taiwan have exhibited characteristic post-disturbance evolution over 20 years. This study also considers two other comparative rivers with similar congenital conditions: the Daan River was affected by a thrust fault Chi-Chi earthquake, too; the Zhuoshui River was influenced by dam construction finished in 2001. The survey data and knickpoint migration model were used to analyze the evolution of the three rivers and propose hypothesis models. Results showed that the mobile knickpoint migrated upstream under the influence of flow, while the dam acted as a fixpoint, leading to an increased elevation gap and downstream channel incision. Thereby, the Dajia river narrowing and incision began at both ends and progressively spread to the whole reach under the combined effects.

Hung-En Chen et al.

Status: open (until 08 Jun 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on esurf-2023-8', Anonymous Referee #1, 22 May 2023 reply

Hung-En Chen et al.

Hung-En Chen et al.


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Short summary
This study explores the fluvial morphology evolution in three rivers in Taiwan caused by natural tectonic movements (the 1999 Mw 7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake) and human-made structures (Dams). Knickpoints resulting from riverbed uplift move, leading to gradual evolution from instability to equilibrium. Dams, on the other hand, cause continuous degradation of the bed. When both effects exist on a reach, the impact of the knickpoint gradually fades away, but the results of the dam on the river persist.