River Meandering as a Self-Organization Process

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Science  22 Mar 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5256, pp. 1710-1713
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5256.1710


Simulations of freely meandering rivers and empirical data show that the meandering process self-organizes the river morphology, or planform, into a critical state characterized by fractal geometry. The meandering process oscillates in space and time between a state in which the river planform is ordered and one in which it is chaotic. Clusters of river cutoffs tend to cause a transition between these two states and to force the system into stationary fluctuations around the critical state.

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