Perennial-streamflow characteristics related to channel geometry and sediment in Missouri River basin

Professional Paper 1242




Geometry, channel-sediment, and discharge data were collected and compiled from 252 streamflow-gaging stations in the Missouri River basin. The sites represent the complete ranges of hydrologic and geologic conditions found in the basin. The data were analyzed by computer to yield equations relating various discharge characteristics to variables of channel geometry and bed and bank material. The equations provide discharge as the dependent variable for the purpose of making estimates of discharge characteristics at ungaged sites. Results show that channel width is best related to variables of discharge, but that reduction of standard errors can be achieved by considering channel-sediment properties, channel gradient, and discharge variability. The channel-material variables do not exert uniform effects on width-discharge relations and, therefore, are considered as sediment-data groups, or stream types, rather than as terms in multiple power-function equations. Relative to streamflow, narrowest channels occur when streams of steady discharge transport sufficient silt and clay to form stable, cohesive banks but have a small tractive load of sand and coarser sizes. Stable channels also are associated with high channel gradients, which cause high channel roughness and bed and bank armouring by coarse particle sizes. The widest, most unstable channels are found with streams that apparently transport of large tractive load of sand sizes. The downstream rates of change of width with discharge reflect these trends, suggesting that a given bed-material load necessitates a minimum width over which the tractive material can be moved. (USGS)

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USGS Numbered Series
Perennial-streamflow characteristics related to channel geometry and sediment in Missouri River basin
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Professional Paper
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37 p.