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Title: Path selection in the growth of rivers

River networks exhibit a complex ramified structure that has inspired decades of studies. But, an understanding of the propagation of a single stream remains elusive. In this paper, we invoke a criterion for path selection from fracture mechanics and apply it to the growth of streams in a diffusion field. We show that, as it cuts through the landscape, a stream maintains a symmetric groundwater flow around its tip. The local flow conditions therefore determine the growth of the drainage network. We use this principle to reconstruct the history of a network and to find a growth law associated with it. Finally, our results show that the deterministic growth of a single channel based on its local environment can be used to characterize the structure of river networks.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [3] ;  [1]
  1. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States). Lorenz Center
  2. Institute of Earth Physics, Paris (France)
  3. Univ. of Warsaw (Poland). Inst. of Theoretical Physics
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 112; Journal Issue: 46; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC (United States)
Research Org:
Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; river channels; principle of local symmetry; harmonic growth; Loewner equation; fracture mechanics
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1348906