River Processes:
An Introduction to Fluvial Dynamics

André Robert

Arnold 2003
A book review by Danny Yee © 2005 http://dannyreviews.com/
An overview of the dynamics of river channels, River Processes is more a review than a synthesis. It packs a lot in and can be quite dry, often presenting results from different studies without much attempt at integration, but it is clearly written and makes nice use of diagrams and halftones. It should have broader appeal than just as a textbook.

The first half of River Processes tackles underlying principles. Chapter one runs through some basic physics and some approaches to classifying rivers. Chapter two covers water flow principles: flows, boundary layers, flow resistance, turbulence, and vortices and other flow structures. And chapter three covers sediment: properties of individual grains and bulk sediments, erosion, and transport of both sediment and bedload. Some of this looks difficult, but no substantial mathematics is used at all, with equations presented without derivations.

The second half of River Processes is more immediately rewarding, with good motivation for anyone who's ever wondered why rivers take the forms they do. Chapter four surveys common bedforms — ribs, step-pool systems, clusters, riffle pool sequences, bedload sheets, and so forth — and the processes behind them (which help explain which forms exist for different grain sizes and shear stresses). Chapter five turns to channels, covering the interactions between flows, sediments, and morphology in meanders, braids and confluences. And chapter six looks briefly at aquatic life, at vegetation interactions with flow and sediment and at salmonid spawning and survival; it also considers the hyporheic zone, the saturated area beneath streams.

River Processes has limited discussion of methodology. Robert presents results from field studies, laboratory models, computer simulations, and analytical calculations, but doesn't include much context: there's no attempt to contrast the limitations or potentials of the different approaches. So River Processes will work better as a text for students in areas that draw on fluvial studies, rather for research-oriented graduate students.

August 2005

External links:
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Related reviews:
- more geology
%T River Processes
%S An Introduction to Fluvial Dynamics
%A Robert, André
%I Arnold
%D 2003
%O paperback, bibliography, index
%G ISBN 0340763396
%P 214pp