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The Mamoré River carries sediment from the rapidly eroding Bolivian Andes. The steep terrain coupled with high river discharge in the Andes causes a high degree of soil erosion.

The high sediment load encourages the growth of point bars, which are seen in these Landsat images as the lighter colored areas along the inside bends of the river. These sandy areas are mostly vegetation-free. Point bars increase the erosion on the opposite side of the river, causing it to further push the river’s course off to the side.

These close-up images show a location on the Mamoré River where several point bars have formed. At the top of these images, this action created a cutoff. Point bars tend to increase the rate of cutoff formation. And the bends that have more sediment (pink) move more than the bends that have less.

View this animation to really see this process in action.

Imagery

Every picture has a story to tell
Aug. 11, 1984, Landsat 5 (path/row 232/70) — Point bar on the Mamoré River, Bolivia
July 8, 1989, Landsat 5 (path/row 232/70) — Point bar on the Mamoré River, Bolivia
Aug. 10, 1995, Landsat 5 (path/row 232/70) — Point bar on the Mamoré River, Bolivia
July 28, 1999, Landsat 5 (path/row 232/70) — Point bar on the Mamoré River, Bolivia
July 15, 2003, Landsat 5 (path/row 232/70) — Point bar on the Mamoré River, Bolivia
July 23, 2006, Landsat 5 (path/row 232/70) — Point bar on the Mamoré River, Bolivia
July 31, 2009, Landsat 5 (path/row 232/70) — Point bar on the Mamoré River, Bolivia
Aug. 6, 2011, Landsat 5 (path/row 232/70) — Point bar on the Mamoré River, Bolivia
Aug. 1, 2015, Landsat 8 (path/row 232/70) — Point bar on the Mamoré River, Bolivia
July 11, 2019, Landsat 8 (path/row 232/70) — Oxbow formation on the Mamoré River, Bolivia
June 30, 2021, Landsat 8 (path/row 232/70) — Oxbow formation on the Mamoré River, Bolivia
June 25, 2022, Landsat 9 (path/row 232/70) — Oxbow formation on the Mamoré River, Bolivia
June 20, 2023, Landsat 8 (path/row 232/70) — Oxbow formation on the Mamoré River, Bolivia

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