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Keywords:

  • Watershed management;
  • Landform analysis;
  • Channels

Abstract

In this paper we develop a classification system for small headwater streams predicated upon an understanding of the dominant physical processes acting in the channel and its basin, and the conditions under which these processes operate. The variables used to build the classification are hillslope gradient, valley width as compared to channel width, channel gradient, channel depth and sediment size. Using physical laws and morphologic relationships, we recognize domains in which various processes dominate. Channels within the same process domain can be expected to behave in a similar manner in transporting sediment and water and responding to and recovering from basin disturbance, therefore we use the domains to recognize distinct channel types. This classification system provides the foundation for building an approach for identifying basins and streams that are comparably sensitive to landuse.