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Scientific Investigations Report 2013–5078

Prepared in cooperation with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs

Regional Bankfull-Channel Dimensions of Non-Urban Wadeable Streams in Indiana

By Bret A. Robinson

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During floods, damage to properties and community infrastructure may result from inundation and the processes of erosion. The damages imparted by erosion are collectively termed the fluvial erosion hazard (FEH), and the Indiana Silver Jackets Multi-agency Hazard Mitigation Taskforce is supporting a program to build tools that will assist Indiana property owners and communities with FEH-mitigation efforts. As part of that program, regional channel-dimension relations are identified for non-urban wadeable streams in Indiana.

With a site-selection process that targeted the three largest physiographic regions of the state, field work was completed to measure channel-dimension and channel-geometry characteristics across Indiana. In total, 82 sites were identified for data collection; 25 in the Northern Moraine and Lake region, 31 in the Central Till Plain region, and 26 in the Southern Hills and Lowlands region.

Following well established methods, for each data-collection site, effort was applied to identify bankfull stage, determine bankfull-channel dimensions, and document channel-geometry characteristics that allowed for determinations of channel classification. In this report, regional bankfull-channel dimension results are presented as a combination of plots and regression equations that identify the relations between drainage area and the bankfull-channel dimensions of width, mean depth, and cross-sectional area.

This investigation found that the channel-dimension data support independent relations for each of the three physiographic regions noted above. Furthermore, these relations show that, for any given drainage area, northern Indiana channels have the smallest predicted dimensions, southern Indiana channels have the largest predicted dimensions, and central Indiana channels are intermediate in their predicted dimensions. When considering the suite of variables that influence bankfull-channel dimensions, it appears that contrasting runoff characteristics between the three physiographic regions may explain much of the inequality observed in the measured channel dimensions. While this investigation targeted non-urban wadeable streams in Indiana, site conditions prevented data collection in some areas. Therefore, application of the results of this study always should include knowledge gained from local observations.

First posted May 24, 2013

For additional information contact:
Director, Indiana Water Science Center
5957 Lakeside Blvd
Indianapolis, IN 46278
Telephone: (317) 290–3333
Fax: (317) 290–3313

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Robinson, B.A., 2013, Regional bankfull-channel dimensions of non-urban wadeable streams in Indiana: U.S. Geological Survey, Scientific Investigations Report 2013–5078, 33 p., available only at




Methods of Study

Regional Bankfull-Channel Dimensions

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

Appendix 1. Channel-classification data and determinations for the channel-dimension study sites on non-urban wadeable streams in Indiana

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