Investigating patterns of in-channel wood deposition locations in a low-gradient, variably-confined alluvial river system


In-channel large wood (LW) plays an important role in the eco-morphological functionality of many river systems. This importance has been widely recognized, yet there continues to be a poor understanding of relationships between morphodynamics and locations of wood deposition within the channel, particularly in low-gradient, semi-confined rivers. This research investigates the following hypotheses: 1) LW deposition locations (DLs) occur periodically in relation to the periodic arrangement of morphological features in the Big River, Missouri, USA, a low-gradient, variably-confined, alluvial river system; 2) geomorphic controls on DLs in the Big River exert varying levels of influence at different spatial scales. A large-scale field inventory of LW DLs was performed along the Big River. A spectral analysis was then used to identify periodic patterns of DLs along the Big River and various statistical tests of association were used to investigate the relationships between DLs and morphological variables, and between periodicity (where identified) and morphological variables. The results suggest that under certain circumstances, DLs are spatially periodic, with periodicities ranging from 270 m to 1371 m, and in some cases exhibit periodicity at different spatial scales. Regression analysis was unable to statistically associate periodicity with morphological features; however, correlation and stepwise Poisson regression models suggest that channel-scale (100 m to 500 m) sinuosity, and valley width exert more influence on DLs than other variables. The lack of strong statistical associations suggests that either 1) LW dynamics in the Big River contain a high level of stochasticity or 2) controlling variables were not included in this analysis. These results support the need for better theoretical and numerical models of stochastic LW processes in order to better manage LW in complex geomorphic systems.


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Document Type





fluvial geomorphology, large wood, Large woody debris, Ozarks, spectral analysis

Publication Date


Journal Title

Progress in Physical Geography