Action des crues sur la dynamique sédimentaire et végétale dans un lit de rivière à galets : l'Isère en Combe de Savoie

Abstract : Many rivers worldwide have seen vegetation establish within their beds throughout the 20th century. In the case of managed rivers, this trend is usually linked to direct geomorphological alterations (sediment mining, diking, etc.) as well as anthropic alterations of flow regime and sediment supply. These pressures have stabilized river beds, allowing vegetation to establish permanently. This vegetation increases the risk of flooding by decreasing flow velocities and increasing water levels. In addition, the associated reduction in availability of pioneer habitats characteristic of these stabilized environments typically degrades biodiversity. Managing hydrology in a way that would limit vegetation establishment on bars presents an interesting management option. In this context, our study was aimed at understanding the impacts of floods of varying magnitude on vegetation removal, as well as identifying and quantifying the underlying mechanisms. This work focused on the Isère River, a heavily managed gravel bed river located in the western French Alps.Vegetation removal was studied at the reach scale using hydrological data, aerial photographs, and topographic data available between 1996 and 2015. At the bar scale, field monitoring before and after floods from april 2014 to september 2015 allowed us to document the impact of floods on sediment mobility and vegetation. A 2D numerical model was used to document fine scale hydraulics.At the reach scale, we found a strong correlation between water volume flowing through the river channel and the amount of vegetation removal. Discharges with return intervals of less than one year seem to have an impact on vegetation removal. The main mechanism observed from aerial photographs was lateral erosion; surface processes were negligible in comparison. However, global vegetation removal was modest: since 1996, on average 3,4 % of vegetated area was removed annually. At the bar scale, our study period permitted monitoring of a series of high frequency floods (return interval < 1 year) and a 10-year food event. Only the largest flood partially removed pioneer vegetation from bars. Young vegetation removal occurred through four different mechanisms: 1) uprooting by surface scour > 20 cm, 2) burial under a thick layer of coarse sediments > 30 cm, 3) uprooting by a combination of surface scour and sediment deposition resulting in no net topographic change, and 4) lateral erosion of bars. Vegetation removal was always associated with significant sediment mobility.We conclude that on the Isere River a very important flood is required to remove vegetation by mobilizing bar surfaces. In contrast, high but not exceptional flows (return interval < 1 an) are capable of removing vegetation through lateral erosion. However, artificial floods alone are unlikely to maintain the full width of the channelized bed of the Isere River free of vegetation. In the future, vegetation removal needs to be studied in the context of alternate bar dynamics with or without vegetation. It seems necessary to consider sediment transport as well as hydrology to understand the overall dynamics of the bed.
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Camille Jourdain. Action des crues sur la dynamique sédimentaire et végétale dans un lit de rivière à galets : l'Isère en Combe de Savoie. Hydrologie. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017GREAU002⟩. ⟨tel-01616077v2⟩

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