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Keywords:

  • terrain analysis;
  • digital elevation model;
  • slope;
  • scale;
  • landscape position

[1] Valley bottoms function as hydrological buffers that significantly affect runoff behavior. Distinguishing valley bottoms from hillslopes is an important first step in identifying and characterizing sediment deposits for hydrologic and geomorphic purposes. Valley bottoms occur at a range of scales from a few meters to hundreds of kilometers in extent. This paper describes an algorithm for using digital elevation models to identify valley bottoms based on their topographic signature as flat low-lying areas. The algorithm operates at a range of scales and combines the results at different scales into a single multiresolution index. This index classifies degrees of valley bottom flatness, which may be related to depth of deposit. The index can also be used to identify groundwater constrictions and to delineate hydrologic and geomorphic units.