Topography of inland deltas: Observations, modeling, and experiments

H. J. Seybold, P. Molnar, D. Akca, M. Doumi, M. Cavalcanti Tavares, T. Shinbrot, J. S. Andrade, W. Kinzelbach, H. J. Herrmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The topography of inland deltas is influenced by the water-sediment balance in distributary channels and local evaporation and seepage rates. In this letter a reduced complexity model is applied to simulate inland delta formation, and results are compared with the Okavango Delta, Botswana and with a laboratory experiment. We show that water loss in inland deltas produces fundamentally different dynamics of water and sediment transport than coastal deltas, especially deposition associated with expansion-contraction dynamics at the channel head. These dynamics lead to a systematic decrease in the mean topographic slope of the inland delta with distance from the apex following a power law with exponent α = −0.69 ± 0.02 where the data for both simulation and experiment can be collapsed onto a single curve. In coastal deltas, on the contrary, the slope increases toward the end of the deposition zone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberGRL26699
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


  • Okavango
  • alluvial fan
  • inland delta


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