Gravel sediment routing from widespread, low-intensity landscape disturbance, Current River basin, Missouri

Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
By:  and 



During the last 160 years, land-use changes in the Ozarks have had the potential to cause widespread, low-intensity delivery of excess amounts of gravel-sized sediment to stream channels. Previous studies have indicated that this excess gravel bedload is moving in wave-like forms through Ozarks drainage basins. The longitudinal, areal distribution of gravel bars along 160 km of the Current River, Missouri, was evaluated to determine the relative effects of valley-scale controls, tributary basin characteristics, and lagged sediment transport in creating areas of gravel accumulations. The longitudinal distribution of gravel-bar area shows a broad scale wave-like form with increases in gravel-bar area weakly associated with tributary junctions. Secondary peaks of gravel area with 1·8–4·1 km spacing (disturbance reaches) are superimposed on the broad form. Variations in valley width explain some, but not all, of the short-spacing variation in gravel-bar area. Among variables describing tributary drainage basin morphometry, present-day land use and geologic characteristics, only drainage area and road density relate even weakly to gravel-bar areal inventories. A simple, channel network-based sediment routing model shows that many of the features of the observed longitudinal gravel distribution can be replicated by uniform transport of sediment from widespread disturbances through a channel network. These results indicate that lagged sediment transport may have a dominant effect on the synoptic spatial distribution of gravel in Ozarks streams; present-day land uses are only weakly associated with present-day gravel inventories; and valley-scale characteristics have secondary controls on gravel accumulations in disturbance reaches.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Gravel sediment routing from widespread, low-intensity landscape disturbance, Current River basin, Missouri
Series title Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
DOI 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9837(199909)24:10<897::AID-ESP18>3.0.CO;2-6
Volume 24
Issue 10
Year Published 1999
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 21 p.
First page 897
Last page 917
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