Abstract

Adjustments to flow width, depth, and velocity in response to changes in discharge are commonly characterized by using downstream hydraulic geometry relationships. The spatial limits of these relationships within a drainage basin have not been systematically quantified. Where the erosional resistance of the channel substrate is sufficiently large, hydraulic driving forces presumably will be unable to adjust channel form. Data sets from 10 mountain rivers in the United States, Panama, Nepal, and New Zealand are used in this study to explore the limits of downstream hydraulic geometry relationships. Where the ratio of stream power to sediment size (Ω/D84) exceeds 10,000 kg/s3, downstream hydraulic geometry is well developed; where the ratio falls below 10,000 kg/s3, downstream hydraulic geometry relationships are poorly developed. These limitations on downstream hydraulic geometry have important implications for channel engineering and simulations of landscape change.

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