Channel-forming discharge and hydraulic geometry width predictors in meandering sand-bed rivers

Ronald Copeland*, Philip Soar, Colin R. Thorne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper defines channel-forming discharge as a theoretical parameter commonly used to develop preliminary channel dimensions for natural channel design. The channel-forming discharge concept is based on the idea that for a given alluvial channel geometry there exists a single steady discharge that given enough time would produce channel dimensions equivalent to those shaped by the natural long-term hydrograph. This theoretical discharge therefore dominates channel form and process and may be used to make morphological inferences. Bankfull discharge, effective discharge and a designated flood peak frequency are three deterministic parameters commonly used to represent the channel-forming discharge. Using this concept of channel-forming discharge, data were collected from 57 meandering sand bed streams in the United States and the three deterministic discharges were compared. The estimated channel-forming discharge was then used to develop generalized hydraulic geometry relationships for bankfull width. Statistically significant differences in the regression of bankfull width and bankfull discharge were determined based on a simple classification of bank vegetation density. These relationships are presented with both single response and mean response confidence limits.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorld Water and Environmental Resources Congress 2005: Impacts of Global Climate Change
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)0784407924, 9780784407929
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2005
Event2005 World Water and Environmental Resources Congress - Anchorage, AK, United States
Duration: 15 May 200519 May 2005


Conference2005 World Water and Environmental Resources Congress
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAnchorage, AK


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