Channel geometry of mountain streams in New Zealand

Ellen E. Wohl, Andrew Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


A dataset of 21 study reaches in the Porter and Kowai rivers (eastern side of the South Island), and 13 study reaches in Camp Creek and adjacent catchments (western side of the South Island) was used to examine downstream hydraulic geometry of mountain streams in New Zealand. Streams in the eastern and western regions both exhibit well-developed downstream hydraulic geometry, as indicated by strong correlations between channel top width, bankfull depth, mean velocity, and bankfull discharge. Exponents for the hydraulic geometry relations are similar to average values for rivers worldwide. Factors such as colluvial sediment input to the channels, colluvial processes along the channels, tectonic uplift, and discontinuous bedrock exposure along the channels might be expected to complicate adjustment of channel geometry to downstream increases in discharge. The presence of well-developed downstream hydraulic geometry relations despite these complicating factors is interpreted to indicate that the ratio of hydraulic driving forces to substrate resisting forces is sufficiently large to permit channel adjustment to relatively frequent discharges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-266
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jan 10 2005


  • Channel adjustment
  • Downstream hydraulic geometry
  • Mountain streams
  • Multiple regression analyses


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