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

Robert B. Jacobson, Karen Bobbitt Gran

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64 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-917
Number of pages21
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 1999


  • Channels
  • Deposition
  • Erosion
  • Fluvial
  • Gravel-bed streams
  • Landscape disturbance
  • Ozarks Plateaus
  • Rivers
  • Sediment routing
  • Sediment storage
  • Sediment transport
  • Sediment waves
  • Sedimentation


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