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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • bank stability modeling
  • stream bank erosion
  • stream restoration
  • sediment loads
  • bank stabilization
  • riparian vegetation

Index Terms

  • 1847 Hydrology: Modeling
  • 1822 Hydrology: Geomechanics
  • 1825 Hydrology: Geomorphology: fluvial
  • 1856 Hydrology: River channels



Development and Application of a Deterministic Bank Stability and Toe Erosion Model for Stream Restoration

Andrew Simon

National Sedimentation Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Oxford, Mississippi, USA

Natasha Pollen-Bankhead

Robert E. Thomas

The Bank Stability and Toe Erosion Model (BSTEM) is a spreadsheet tool used to simulate stream bank erosion in a mechanistic framework. It has been successfully used in a range of alluvial environments in both static mode to simulate bank stability conditions and design of stream bank stabilization measures and iteratively over a series of hydrographs to evaluate surficial, hydraulic erosion, bank failure frequency, and the volume of sediment eroded from a bank over a given time period. In combination with the submodel RipRoot, reinforcing effects of riparian vegetation can be quantified and included in analysis of mitigation strategies. The model is shown to be very useful in testing the effect of potential mitigation measures that might be used to reduce the frequency of bank instability and decrease sediment loadings from stream banks. Results of iterative BSTEM analysis are used to extrapolate volumes of bank-derived sediment from individual sites to reaches when used with observations of the “percent reach failing.” Results show that contributions of suspended sediment from stream banks can vary considerably, ranging from 10% in the predominantly low-gradient, agricultural watershed of the Big Sioux River, South Dakota, to more than 50% in two steep, forested watersheds of the Lake Tahoe Basin, California. Modeling of stream bank mitigation strategies shows that toe protection added to eroding stream banks can reduce overall volumes of eroded sediment up to 85%–100%, notwithstanding, that hydraulic erosion of the toe in this case makes up only 15%–20% of total bank erosion. BSTEM is available to the public free of charge at

Citation: Simon, A., N. Pollen-Bankhead, and R. E. Thomas (2011), Development and application of a deterministic bank stability and toe erosion model for stream restoration, in Stream Restoration in Dynamic Fluvial Systems: Scientific Approaches, Analyses, and Tools, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 194, edited by A. Simon, S. J. Bennett and J. M. Castro, pp. 453–474, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2010GM001006.


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