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Gravel-Bed Rivers - Processes and Disasters

sdgthThis weighty tome is not something you would pick to take on a journey, but if you are looking for some of the latest papers on what the gravel-bed research world is doing then this book is for you.  It represents the outcome of the 8th International Gravel Bed Rivers Workshop in Kyoto, Japan and Takayama, held in September 2015.

The objective of the workshop was to present the latest progress in understanding the morphology and processes operating in gravel-bed rivers, with the key theme focusing on disasters arising from flooding in gravel bed rivers.  Most research has been about what happens in bank-full conditions, but the real damage happens once gravel-bed rivers breach their banks.  When this occurs the impact on our societies can be significant, and it can lead to many lost lives.  The theme was particularly pertinent to the workshop being in Japan as more than half of all disaster related deaths in Japan over the 2010-2014 period occurred as a result of gravel-bed river-related events.

The book has 28 topic papers.  Many deal with methods for modelling gravel-bed processes looking at the morphology found in rivers, and how flow conditions affect the grading and porosity in fluvial sediments.  The effect that river bed morphology has on flow conditions forms the subject of some papers as well.  So if you were needing to understand the complex modelling options available this book should satisfy many questions you might have.

However, there is more to the book than mathematical modelling papers.  There are also case studies on lahar disasters from Indonesia, on reservoir sediment flushing and replenishment below dams in Japan, a review of geomorphic responses to dam removal in the USA and descriptions of catastrophic gravel deposition from outbreak floods.  There are also papers looking at the ecological implications of intermittent flow in gravel-bed rivers and consideration of how vegetation and ‘large wood’ should be modelled to assess the effect on flow (and vice versa).  It is interesting that there is nothing looking specifically at how climate change is likely to impact disasters related to gravel-bed rivers, as one might expect in this day and age.  Last but not least, the book ends with a paper looking at fluvial gravels on Mars. I wonder what risk assessments for Martian field surveys would comprise!

Reviewed by James Montgomery

GRAVEL BED RIVERS - PROCESSES AND DISASTERS, edited by DAIZO TSUTSUMI AND JONATHAN B LARONNE. 2017. Published by: Wiley Blackwell. 783pp. ISBN 9781118971406  List Price: £150 (hbk) E-book: £135