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Fundamentals of Fluvial Geomorphology
by Ro Charlton
Overview and Setting for the Course
In recent decades, a heightened awareness of the crucial role rivers play in maintaining the health of the environment has focused attention on how we manage and use rivers. Understanding how rivers transport sediment and respond to disturbances remains a central issue for river management and restoration projects. This course will provide future fluvial geomorphologists, hydrologists, land use planners, and policymakers with the necessary background to understand how river flow, sediment supply and transport, and channel form are related. The course will investigate these topics through lectures and class discussions, individual topical studies, and field trips to local rivers to observe and measure river form and process.
Specific course objectives
This course focuses on stream flows, erosion, transport, and storage of sediment in watersheds, and how these processes interact to create the current river form. Students will investigate basic controls of river form, including floods and hydrology, substrate erodibility, and sediment movement in the river system. After this course, students will know how to delineate watersheds, measure stream flows and measure channel geometry, identify stable and unstable channel features, characterize stream flow recurrence from stream gage data, and utilize sediment transport theory to estimate sediment mobility and transport rates. Students will confront current issues with stream restoration and management, and be familiar with current stream restoration practices.
Grades for this course will be a combination of quizzes, lab exercises, midterm exams, a final exam, and a student presentation.
The lab will consist of hands-on exercises and possibly field trips (weather permitting). You are encouraged to work in small groups (2-3 people per group) for lab exercises, and you may hand in a single report for your group.