Three. Catchment-Scale Controls on River Geomorphology

  1. Kirstie A. Fryirs1 and
  2. Gary J. Brierley2

Published Online: 28 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118305454.ch3

Geomorphic Analysis of River Systems: An Approach to Reading the Landscape

Geomorphic Analysis of River Systems: An Approach to Reading the Landscape

How to Cite

Fryirs, K. A. and Brierley, G. J. (2012) Catchment-Scale Controls on River Geomorphology, in Geomorphic Analysis of River Systems: An Approach to Reading the Landscape, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118305454.ch3

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Environment and Geography, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia

  2. 2

    School of Environment, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 SEP 2012
  2. Published Print: 16 NOV 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405192750

Online ISBN: 9781118305454



  • catchment morphometrics;
  • catchment-scale controls;
  • geologic controls;
  • geomorphic transitions;
  • longitudinal profiles;
  • river geomorphology;
  • sediment flux;
  • sediment process zones


This chapter on catchment-scale controls on river geomorphology first examines how the balance of erosion and deposition along river courses determines the distribution of sediment process zones in catchments and resulting patterns of river morphology. Analysis of catchment-scale relationships along longitudinal profiles (the downstream gradation in elevation along a river course from its source to sink) sets the foundations for examination of how water and sediment are transferred through catchments. The chapter then discusses how various morphometric measures (i.e. catchment area, shape, relief, drainage density and stream order) can be used to interpret sediment and water flux in catchments. Geologic controls on slope and sediment calibre exert a primary influence upon river character and behaviour. Analyses of flow and sediment fluxes must consider how landscape components fit together at the catchment scale (i.e. their connectivity). Critically, site-specific investigations must be framed within their landscape and catchment context.