Environmental Geology

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 119–127 | Cite as

Pools, riffles, and channelization

  • Edward A. Keller


The addition of regularly spaced deeps (pools) and shallows (riffles) that provide a variety of flow conditions, areal sorting of stream-bed material, cover for wildlife, and a positive aesthetic experience, may be desirable in many channel projects. Such designs will reduce adverse environmental impacts of stream channel modifications.

Analysis of variance for pool-to-pool spacing data suggests that there is no significant difference with respect to channel width between pools that form in natural streams and those in streams affected by a variety of human uses. Short of channelization, which changes the channel width, pools and riffles, within limits, are not particularly sensitive to environmental stress.

Experiments in Gum Branch near Charlotte, North Carolina, support the hypothesis that channel form and process evolve in harmony and that manipulation of cross-channel morphology can influence the development of desired channel processes. Planned manipulation of its channel form induced Gum Branch to develop as desired. Morphologic stability consisting of incipient point bars, pools, and riffles was maintained over a period of high magnitude flood events, only to be degraded later by a wave of sediment derived from upstream construction and stream-bank failures. Thus, environmentally desirable channel morphology in urban streams cannot remain stable if changes in the sediment load or storm-water runoff exceed the limits of the stream's ability to make internal adjustments while maintaining morphologic stability.


Sediment Load Channel Form Aesthetic Experience Urban Stream Channel Process 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward A. Keller
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Studies and Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta Barbara

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