Articles | Volume 9, issue 2
Earth Surf. Dynam., 9, 379–391, 2021
Earth Surf. Dynam., 9, 379–391, 2021

Research article 26 Apr 2021

Research article | 26 Apr 2021

Controls on the hydraulic geometry of alluvial channels: bank stability to gravitational failure, the critical-flow hypothesis, and conservation of mass and energy

Jon D. Pelletier

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Cited articles

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Archuleta, C. M., Constance, E. W., Arundel, S. T., Lowe, A. J., Mantey, K. S., and Phillips, L. A.: The National Map seamless digital elevation model specifications, U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, 11, B9,, 2017. 
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Attal, M., Mudd, S. M., Hurst, M. D., Weinman, B., Yoo, K., and Naylor, M.: Impact of change in erosion rate and landscape steepness on hillslope and fluvial sediments grain size in the Feather River basin (Sierra Nevada, California), Earth Surf. Dynam., 3, 201–222,, 2015. 
Bathurst, J. C.: Flow resistance through the channel network, in: Channel Network Hydrology, edited by: Beven, K., and Kirkby, M. J., Wiley, Chichester, U.K., 43–68, 1993. 
Short summary
The sizes and shapes of alluvial channels vary in a systematic way with the water flow they convey during large floods. It is demonstrated that the depth of alluvial channels is controlled by the resistance of channel bank material to slumping, which in turn is controlled by clay content. Deeper channels have faster water flow in a manner controlled by the critical hydraulic state to which channels tend to evolve. Channel width and slope can be further quantified using conservation principles.