Man-induced channel adjustment in Tennessee streams

Water-Resources Investigations Report 82-4098




Channel modifications in Tennessee, particularly in the western part, have led to large-scale instabilities in the channelized rivers and may have contributed to several bridge failures. These modifications, together with land-use practices, led to downcutting, headward erosion, downstream aggradation, accelerated scour, and bank instabilities. Changes in gradient by channel straightening caused more severe channel response than did dredging or clearing. Large-scale changes continue to occur in all the channelized rivers: the Obion River, its forks, and the South Fork Forked Deer River. However, the non-channelized Hatchie River in west Tennessee not only withstood the natural stresses imposed by the wet years of 1973 to 1975 but continues to exhibit characteristics of stability. Water-surface slope, the primary dependent variable, proved to be a sensitive and descriptive parameter useful in determining channel adjustment. Adjustments to man-induced increases in channel-slope are described by inverse exponential functions of the basic form S=ae(-b(t)); where ' S ' is some function describing channel-slope, ' t ' is the number of years since completion of channel work, and ' a ' and ' b ' are coefficients. Response times for the attainment of ' equilibrium ' channel slopes are a function of the magnitude and extent of the imposed modifications. The adjusted profile gradients attained by the streams following channelization are similar to the predisturbed profile gradients, where no alteration to channel length was made. Where the channels were straightened by constructing cut-offs, thus shortening channel length, then slope adjustments (reduction) proceed past the predisturbed profile gradients, to new profiles with lower gradients. (USGS)

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Man-induced channel adjustment in Tennessee streams
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey,
ix, 137 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.