Dr. Wout van Dijk, Geomorphologist/ Physical Geographer

I would like to welcome you on my website about my research and other stuff that interests me over the last years. My name is Wout van Dijk and I work since October 2021 as an advisor at Rijkswaterstaat Zee en Delta. Before this latest job I worked as consultant at Arcadis Netherlands and worked for a full decade at the university as PhD (Utrecht University) and Postdoc (Durham University and Utrecht University).

My main work at Rijkswaterstaat will be to advise in the manner of the soil and water in the North Sea area. Herefore, I worked at challenging projects related to cable to the offshore windfarms, environmental study of side-channels in the Rhine branches, severel silt plume studies in the Middle East as well as for the Netherlands and I consulted the UN-Habitat Philippines within the Shelter Program on plastic hotspotting around rivers.

At the university I worked on three major projects, which findings can be found through this website as these have all been published (mostly open access). The project includes:

1. River Meandering, How do river meander? And can we create the right conditions, so that they form in the laboratory (Eurotank Flume of 10 x 3 m)?

2. What is the spatial variation in groundwater depletion rate in NW India? And can we relate this spatial pattern with the subsurface?

3. What is the effect of natural (shoal margin collapses) and human interference (dredging and disposal) on the estuary morphodynamics? How do these disturbances affect the multi-channel network system?

Main interests:

I am fascinated by the morphology of fluvial and coastal systems and the changes that occur over time. My work focuses on fluvial processes, e.g. sediment transport, bank erosion, floodplain formation, in relation to subsurface stratigraphy formed over millennia and longer, but also on hydrogeological processes, what is the role of the subsurface on groundwater heads and flow. Currently, my work focuses around distribution of silt, plastics and contaminants in coastal environment and the morphology and stratigraphy of the North Sea.

During my last Postdoc, I worked on a project as part of the Vici proposal of Prof. Dr. MG Kleinhans 'Turning the tide: Dynamics of channels and shoals in estuaries with sands and mud' (result can be found here). The main objective is to generate understanding of natural dynamics and response to human interference of channels and shoals in river estuaries, and subsequently produce improved forecasting tools. This includes classic bank erosion in the river-dominated reach, shoal margin collapse by fluidisation and by breaching, and salt marsh retreat.

My specific objectives are to:

1. analyse channel margin collapse in available detailed field data

2. test and develop parameterisations for channel margin collapse in estuaries in Delft3D

3. analyse how the collapsed material spreads through the system and affects and perhaps perturbs the channel network

Previously, I was investigating groundwater depletion in relation to geomorphic and sedimentary settings as part of a postdoc in the Changing Water Cycle program with Alex Densmore, Sanjeev Gupta and Rajiv Sinha, which was a NERC-MoES project in collaboration with Universities in the UK and India. My role involved assessing the geomorphic setting and stratigraphy of palaeochannel aquifer systems in the northwestern Indo-Gangetic Plains, in conjunction with detailed geological, geophysical, and geochemical assessment of the aquifers. I identified an inactive fan surface but the lithologic data density is insufficient to reconstruct a fully 3D image of the region (JGR-paper). This is used to develop a regional-scale understanding of aquifer geometry, the degree of connectivity within the system (Journal of Hydrology paper), and its likely evolution over Holocene time scales.

For my PhD project I created the first dynamic meandering river in the lab and showed that this requires sustained upstream dynamics. Moreover, I demonstrated the influence of floodplain-channel sediment ratios on river and delta morphology. I combined strengths of fieldwork, experiments and numerical modelling during my PhD.

  • Fluvial Geomorphology

  • Fluvial Remote Sensing

  • Fluvial Sedimentology

  • Physical/ Numerical Modelling

  • River morphodynamics

In general, I like a variety of research topics and I am quite familar with different approaches such as physical experiments, numerical model and field analysis.

My research

Currently, I work at Rijkswaterstaat as a advisor for the North Sea. Please be free to check my website for my past projects and research findings, I am happy to share my papers and presentations. Most are already Open Access but if needed I can send you a copy as well.

My PhD-dissertation: Meandering rivers - feedbacks between channel dynamics, floodplain and vegetation can be found here. (2009-2013)

Media attention of my previous work on meandering rivers: A short newsflash was published on the work of our first article in a Dutch magazine (De Ingenieur) and in a Dutch newspaper (NRC weekend). Wietse (2nd author) and I were invited for a interview on the Dutch radio (TROS nieuwsshow) Furthermore, a short message was also published in the EOS (Research Spotlight) as our work got some extra attention in the Editors' Highlight. Later, my supervisor was invited to tell about our research on meandering rivers in the lab on Dutch National television.

About me

Dr. Wout van Dijk,
Advisor at Rijkswaterstaat Zee en Delta

contact info: RWS-ZD

team Netwerkontwikkeling en Visie

Visiting address:

Lange Kleiweg 34,
2280 GK Rijswijk