Geomorphologic changes around a mid-river bar system at a meandering reach in the lower Yangtze River, China: Impacts of the three Gorges dam (TGD) and human activities

Yan Xu-Feng, Duan Huan-Feng, Liu Tong-Huan, Xu Ze-Xing, Wang Xie-Kang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Mid-river bars are important agents that impact the flow and sediment dynamics of rivers and are commonly used for the development of human society. This study focused on the geomorphologic change (riverbed and bar morphology) around a large-scale river bar system in the lower Yangtze River (namely, Heishazhou) that was possibly impacted by the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) and other river engineering works. Relevant data sources including field surveys, hydrological station records, satellite images and historical practice reports were gathered for the investigation. The Heishazhou bar system previously consisted of two major subbars and recently merged as an entirety. Rapid bar growth occurred after the construction and operation of the TGD, leading to the closure of the Middle Channel and the South Channel dominating water conveyance at the reach. With the examination of another three bar systems in the lower Yangtze River, the lower-reach bar systems generally grew due to sediment deposition around bars, which differred from those in the middle reach that generally shrunk. The underlying cause may be that the middle-reach riverbed still supplies sediment to the lower reach. The riverbed at the Heishazhou reach, however, experienced apparent erosion after the construction of the TGD. Combining historical investigations and satellite images, a conceptual description was created to understand the geomorphologic cycle of river bar systems at a meandering reach and found that the formation of an inner-bank bar shall be a major force driving the geomorphologic cycle. Sediment deficits caused by the TGD and human activities such as dikes, bank revetments and riverbed dredging are highly likely to cause a slow-down of the geomorphologic cycle of these river bar systems with distinct mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106038
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Alternating erosional and depositional regimes
  • Lower Yangtze River
  • River bars and bifurcation evolution
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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