Relative Importance of Intrinsic, Extrinsic, and Anthropic Factors in the Geomorphic Zonation of the Trinity River, Texas

Authors


  • Paper No. JAWRA-09-0190-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.

(E-Mail/Phillips: jdp@uky.edu)

Abstract

Phillips, Jonathan D., 2010. Relative Importance of Intrinsic, Extrinsic, and Anthropic Factors in the Geomorphic Zonation of the Trinity River, Texas. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 46(4): 807-823. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2010.00457.x

Abstract:  The Trinity River, Texas, was characterized according to its geologic framework, valley width and confinement, slope, sinuosity, channel-floodplain connectivity, and flow regime, leading to the identification of 18 hinge points along the 638 km study area where major transitions in two or more criteria occur. These, and effects of human agency, avulsions, and sea level rise, delineate 21 river styles or zones. Each zone was evaluated with respect to dominant factors determining its geomorphological characteristics: geology/lithology, tectonics, Holocene sea level rise, meandering, cutoffs and other lateral channel changes, avulsions, valley constrictions by alluvial terraces, and paleomeander depressions. Direct human influences (a large impoundment and water withdrawals) are also evident. Entropy of the relationships between these controls and the geomorphological zones shows that all the controls are significant, and each accounts for 4-15% of the total entropy. Geologic controls, lateral channel changes, and constriction by terraces are the three most influential controls, illustrating that controls on river morphology include extrinsic boundary conditions, active process-form interrelationships, and inherited features. Extrinsic and intrinsic controls each account for about a third of the entropy, but the latter includes antecedent features as well as active channel dynamics, underscoring the importance of historical contingency even in alluvial rivers.

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