B2) Bank erosion processes

Gonzalo Duró

"Understanding natural bank erosion processes in multifunctional rivers to find a balance between ecology, navigation and flood safety"

Practical motivation

Bank erosion is a key natural process of river morphodynamics. Natural bank erosion contributes to the habitat diversity and rejuvenation, which enhance river ecological functions for aquatic plants and animals. However, the reduction or absence of bank erosion is often sought in favor of diverse human needs, such as navigation and flood protection, or simply to avoid property damage and land loss. After the European Water Framework Directive, many kilometers of riverbanks have been restored for ecological reasons, while other river functions must continue. It is then a challenge to manage such complex systems, predict their morphological evolution, and find feasible approaches that balance all river functions.

Management phase: Evaluation & Adjustment | Problem identification |

Management goals: Morphological understanding | Nature conservation |

Field survey to monitor bank erosion processes. (Source: RiverCare)

Research Aim

This research aims at deepening the understanding of bank erosion as occurs in unprotected settings by investigating:

  • the possibility and benefits of using vegetation for bank stabilization,
  • a strategy for balancing riverbank ecological functions with stabilization techniques and,
  • an improved modelling approach for bank erosion prediction.

Temporal scale: Recent evolution (1-10years) | Seasonal measurements | Yearly measurements |


The methodology is based on field measurements at a case study where river monitoring campaigns have been regularly carried out considering many variables and complexities.

  • The case study is located in the Meuse River, the Netherlands, where regular campaigns are held.
  • Field methods include topographic surveys with unmanned airborne vehicle (UAV) imagery, measurements of water velocities and pressures, and time-lapse cameras.
  • Remote sensing methods include aerial photographs and airborne laser scanning.
  • Laboratory methods include soil shear tests and sieving, while reduced-scale models have also been applied to investigate bed-bank interactions.
  • Other methods considered for this research are numerical models to analyze specific scenarios of bank erosion in waterways.

Data-collection methods: Field survey measurements | Historical approach | Process-based modeling | Remote sensing |

Bank lines in the Maas over four years of naturally eroding conditions: blue 2011, yellow 2012, pink 2013, green 2014. (Source: Gonzalo Duró)

Main progress and next steps

  • The monitoring of bank erosion processes at a reach scale have been investigated through remote sensing techniques to the main case study (i.e. the application of structure-from-motion photogrammetry and unmanned aerial vehicles). The main findings are under review in the journal Earth Surface Dynamics.
  • The morphological characterization of bank erosion in waterways has been done through aerial photographs and airborne laser scannings. The main findings are under review for the River Flow 2018 conference.
  • Next steps include the identification of causes for distinct erosion patterns (see Figure above) and the modeling of bank erosion to estimate erosion magnitudes and explore potential solutions for natural banks in multi-functional rivers.

Study areas

Key study areas: Maas River (Netherlands)

Last modified: 17/06/2018

Main researcher

Gonzalo Duró

Supervisory team

dr. ir. Alessandra Crosato


prof. dr. Maarten Kleinhans


Prof. dr. ir. Wim Uijttewaal


Contributing partners

Rijkswaterstaat Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management

Royal HaskoningDHV

HKV Consultants

LievenseCSO Infrastructure & Environment

Delft University of Technology

Utrecht University

University of Twente

NWO Applied and Engineering Sciences

Jump to publications list

Other outputs

Jump to: Conference Abstract



  • Duró, G., Crosato A., Kleinhans M.G. and Uijttewaal W.S.J, (2017). Cohesive bank erosion processes identified from UAV imagery during an exceptional low water level event. In S. Lanzoni, M. Redolfi, & G. Zolezzi (Eds.), RCEM 2017 – Back to Italy: The 10th Symposium on River, Coastal and Estuarine Morphodynamics, Trento-Padova, 15-22 September 2017, Book of Abstracts. (pp. 151)
  • Duró, G., Uijttewaal, W., Kleinhans, M., Crosato, A. Bank erosion processes in waterways. In: A.J.F. Hoitink, T.V. de Ruijsscher, T.J. Geertsema, B. Makaske, J. Wallinga, J.H.J. Candel, J. Poelman (Eds.), Book of abstracts NCR days 2017, NCR Publication 41-2017, 1-3 February 2017, Wageningen University & Research, pp. 82-83.


  • Duró, G., Crosato, A., Uijttewaal, W.S.J. (2015). Research on Natural Bank Erosion Processes. In: H.J.R. Lenders, F.P.L. Collas, G.W. Geerling, R.S.E.W. Leuven (Eds.). Bridging gaps between river science, governance and management. Book of abstracts NCR-days 2015, NCR Publication 39-2015, 1-2 October 2015, Radboud University, Nijmegen, pp. 113-114.


  • Duró, G.: Best poster award on the NCR-days on October 2-3, 2015 for his poster on ‘Research on natural bank erosion processes’.



Symposium on River, Coastal and Estuarine Morphodynamics 2017 in Padova (Italy)

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DeltaLinks Magazine | oktober 2016: Rivieren

01/10/2016 by dr. ir. Astrid Blom

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Rivercare floodplain


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Project group
Project B

Contact details

Gonzalo Duró

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