C1) Low-energy river morphodynamics

Jasper Candel

"Studying the planform evolution of low-energy rivers to guide water managers in re-meandering interventions for restoration projects"

Practical motivation

A knowledge gap exists between river restoration demands and current understanding on the morphodynamic functioning of low-energy rivers. In many restoration projects in lowlands, single-thread, sinuous rivers are often seen as “natural” and used as a reference. However, it is often unknown when and how the sinuous planform formed and whether low-energy rivers laterally migrated in the past. Because morphodynamic processes in lowland rivers are slow, we study these processes on a longer time scale in order to make predictions for future morphological river behavior. This knowledge contributes to the development of sustainable and cost-effective restoration. The alignment of restoration approaches with natural morphodynamic processes is expected to increase robustness and reduce maintenance efforts.

Management phase: Problem identification |

Management goals: Flood safety | Morphological understanding |

Using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to study the fluvial deposits in the Dommel valley. (Source: Jasper Candel)

Research Aim

The aim of this project is to identify the leading mechanisms for the formation of highly sinuous planforms in low-energy rivers during the Holocene. We focus on:

  • low-energy streams in peat-filled valley systems such the one analysed in the Drentsche Aa area
  • low-energy meandering rivers in self-formed heterogeneous floodplains
  • a channel pattern change from laterally stable to meandering such the one analysed in the Overijsselse Vecht
  • improving the stability diagram (Kleinhans & Van den Berg, 2011) in order to predict the lateral activity of rivers
  • the relation between hydraulic processes, channel planform and floodplain formation in low-energy rivers.

Temporal scale: Paleo evolution (periods of Earth history) |


  • Coring and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to  map the valley-fills of low-energy rivers
  • Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) to determine the time of deposition of fluvial sediments,
  • Radiocarbon (14C) dating to determine the age of organic material.

Data-collection methods: Field survey measurements |

Main progress and next steps

This projects contributes to the development of sustainable and cost-effective low-energy river restoration approaches. These should be aiming at restoring the natural morphodynamic processes, as alignment with these processes is expected to increase robustness and reduce maintenance efforts.

Study areas

Key study areas: Drentsche Aa stream (The Netherlands) | Overijsselse Vecht stream (The Netherlands) | Dommel stream (The Netherlands)

Last modified: 17/06/2018

Main researcher

Jasper Candel

Supervisory team

dr. Bart Makaske


prof. dr. Jakob Wallinga


Contributing partners

Rijkswaterstaat Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management

Foundation for Applied Water Research STOWA

Witteveen+Bos Engineering and Consulting

Wageningen University & Research

Utrecht University

NWO Applied and Engineering Sciences

How do bends form in peat-land streams?

Jasper Candel

We propose a conceptual model to explain the origin of bends in peatland streams to better inform stream restoration.

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Featured Outputs

Change from a laterally stable to meandering river – a reconstruction of the historical discharge

31/08/2018 by Jasper Candel et al.

Contains: Data repository access Journal publication

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Oblique aggradation: explanation for the sinuosity of streams in peat-filled valleys

07/12/2016 by Jasper Candel et al.

Contains: Data repository access Journal publication

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Other outputs

Jump to: Conference abstract | Thesis

Conference abstract




  • Candel, J.H.J., Makaske, B., Wallinga, J., Storms, J. (2015). Holocene lowland stream morphodynamics in a peat-filled valley system. 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. 93-96.





Fieldwork at the Drentsche Aa: ‘Hier moeten we zijn’

24/01/2018 by Jasper Candel

Bas Nabers, a Dutch philosopher who joined me once on a fieldwork day at the Drentsche Aa.

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

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News and Press

Resource Newsletter | Drilling into the past: A new explanation for bends in peatland streams

08/03/2017 by Jasper Candel

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Rivercare floodplain


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Project group
Project C

Contact details

Jasper Candel

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