Thesis Title

Geomorphic Adjustments of Ozark Stream Channels to Urbanization, Southwest Missouri


Linda Martin

Date of Graduation

Summer 2001


Master of Natural and Applied Science in Geography, Geology, and Planning


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Committee Chair

Robert Pavlowsky

Subject Categories

Geomorphology | Hydrology | Water Resource Management


Increases in runoff peaks, discharges, and frequencies due to urbanization have caused erosion, channel expansion, and gravel release in surface streams draining the Springfield Plateau in Southwest Missouri. This study determines the degree and manner in which the urban-induced changes are occurring by describing the stream changes in terms of the geomorphic events taking place on an affected stream and comparing them with characteristcs of a non-urbanized headwater stream. An analysis of the timing, causes, and distribution of changes has been developed, along with recommendations for future avenues of protection for Ozark headwater stream health. This study uses a matched-pair approach to compare area, discharge, stream power, valley-floodplain relationships, and stability characteristics of a rural stream to those features found on an urbanized stream draining Nixa, Missouri. Results indicate that an initial development phase initiated both erosion of the upland plateau grassed valley floor and gravel "wave" transport to lower portions of the urbanized stream. Continuing stream erosion in lower stream sections now operates due to geomorphic lag caused by the transport of gravel waves at flows of less than bankfull discharge. Implications of this study show that protection of the upland grassed valley floors of the plateau are critical in maintaining stream health as well as in preventing the delivery of gravel to larger rivers that has become a concern in the Ozarks.


© Linda Martin