Embedding reach-scale fluvial dynamics within the CAESAR cellular automaton landscape evolution model

Marco J. Van De Wiel, Tom J. Coulthard, Mark G. Macklin, John Lewin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


We introduce a new computational model designed to simulate and investigate reach-scale alluvial dynamics within a landscape evolution model. The model is based on the cellular automaton concept, whereby the continued iteration of a series of local process 'rules' governs the behaviour of the entire system. The model is a modified version of the CAESAR landscape evolution model, which applies a suite of physically based rules to simulate the entrainment, transport and deposition of sediments. The CAESAR model has been altered to improve the representation of hydraulic and geomorphic processes in an alluvial environment. In-channel and overbank flow, sediment entrainment and deposition, suspended load and bed load transport, lateral erosion and bank failure have all been represented as local cellular automaton rules. Although these rules are relatively simple and straightforward, their combined and repeatedly iterated effect is such that complex, non-linear geomorphological response can be simulated within the model. Examples of such larger-scale, emergent responses include channel incision and aggradation, terrace formation, channel migration and river meandering, formation of meander cutoffs, and transitions between braided and single-thread channel patterns. In the current study, the model is illustrated on a reach of the River Teifi, near Lampeter, Wales, UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-301
Number of pages19
Issue number3-4
Early online date21 Apr 2007
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Alluvial geomorphology
  • Cellular automaton
  • Landscape evolution
  • River Teifi
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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