Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2012

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Weber, Larry J

Second Advisor

Schnoebelen, Douglas J

First Committee Member

Odgaard, A Jacob


The Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) is a diverse and dynamic ecosystem that includes the main stem river channel, side channels, backwater floodplains and lakes, islands, wetlands, grasslands, and floodplain forests. The hydrology of this rich ecosystem is one of the key drivers for physical, chemical and biological processes. However, the hydrology and hydraulics of the UMRS has been drastically altered from its natural state as a result of the construction of the locks and dams in the 1930s. Beginning with the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, biologists, ecologists, and engineers have been working to restore the river to a more natural state within the current constraints imposed by the lock and dam system. In an effort to restore rivers to a more natural state, the determination of a hydraulic reference condition is essential to understanding the "why and how" of historical river system function. Understanding the fundamental processes of historical conditions will help prioritize resources and better quantify possible outcomes for riverine restoration.

The main goal of this study was to construct a hydrodynamic reference condition for Pool 8 of the Upper Mississippi River System using hydrodynamic computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling. The CFD model will provide a better understanding of pre-impoundment flow conditions as compared to post-impoundment conditions today. The numerical model was constructed and developed primarily from a pre-impoundment 1890s topographic map with bathymetric cross-sections in the channels. The 1890s map and other sources from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided historic elevation and hydraulic reference data for model calibration. The calibrated historic model was then compared with a current model of similar scale representing post-impoundment conditions, allowing for quantitative analysis of the differences between the two conditions.

Model results indicated large changes in average depth and average velocity between historic and current conditions in certain parts of the pool, while others remained relatively unchanged. For example, velocities decreased in main channel aquatic areas in the lower part of Pool 8 from an average of 0.6 m/s (2.0 ft/s) under historic conditions to 0.1 m/s (0.3 ft/s) under current conditions. In the same part of the pool, however, velocities in contiguous backwater areas remained relatively constant, with most remaining less than 0.25 m/s (0.82 ft/s). Additionally, in the lower part of the pool, discharge distribution between the floodplain areas and the main channel was historically much more dynamic, with flow concentrated in the main and secondary channels at discharges less than 2265 m3/s and in the floodplains at greater than 2265 m3/s. Under current conditions, discharge distribution is much less dynamic, with approximately 2/3 of the total discharge conveyed on the floodplain for all discharges modeled (283 m3/s to 2832 m3/s or 10,000 ft3/s to 100,000 ft3/s).


Hydraulics, Hydrodynamics, Modeling, Reference Conditions, River mechanics, Upper Mississippi River


x, 122 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 117-122).


Copyright 2012 Brice E Stafne