You are on page 1of 16

Project #2

Rosgen’s Classification of Natural Rivers




Souice: }ulio Caesai Noiales.




Sieiia }. Phillips
Nay 22, 2u1S
uE0u 114 Riveis





!"#$%&'$
The puipose of this stuuy was to classify a ieach of Rattlesnake Cieek at
Skofielu Paik using the Rosgen classification system. Taking uata in the fielu anu
fiom obseivation we classifieu the stieam as a B4 stieam with the Rosgen
classification but encounteieu some of the pioblems with the system. To analyze the
Rosgen system, we compaieu anu contiasteu it with the Nontgomeiy anu
Buffington anu the Schumm classification systems to finu that the Nontgomeiy anu
Buffington system alloweu the most iealistic chaiacteiization of the stieam while
also pioviuing moie valuable infoimation about piocess anu evolution of the
stieam.
2
I. Introduction
a. Objectives
The objective of this study was to classify Rattlesnake Creek using the
Rosgen classification system by looking at broad geomorphologic characteristics
and morphologically describing the stream and to analyze this method by
comparing and contrasting it with the Schumm and the Montgomery and
Buffington classification systems. By applying fundamental principles of fluvial
geomorphology to collect data from the field we can classify the stream allowing
us to recognize stability and the causes of instability through gaining a greater
understanding of stream processes and evolution. This important information has
major implications for flood control, the building of structures, stream
management and restoration, and research. The classification of a stream can also
be used as a communication tool and to describe existing and continuous trends.
b. Study Area
The Mission Creek watershed in Santa Barbara, California (as shown in
Figure 1 below) starts north of downtown Santa Barbara in the transverse Santa
Ynez Mountains range and extends south to the Pacific Ocean via the lagoon, also
known as the old El Estero. Santa Barbara’s has been characterized as having
Mediterranean climate, having an average temperature of 60°F and a mean
monthly temperature ranging from 55°F in the winters to 65°F in the summers
(Loáiciga 35). A large part of the watershed is chaparral environment with
mountain streams but the southern portion has been greatly developed into the
downtown and residential areas of Santa Barbara. The Mission Creek watershed’s
primary tributary, Rattlesnake Creek, lies towards the east side of the watershed
while Mission Creek lies towards the west side covering a drainage area of
8.2 km
2
, as shown in Figure 2 below (Keller 235). The reach of Rattlesnake Creek
we studied was in Skofield Park, which is marked with a yellow star in Figure 2.
Skofield Park lays on an ancient alluvial fan that is around 125,000 years old. It is
the source of the debris flow that was responsible for depositing the boulders one
can see at Rocky Nook Park. A landslide around 1000 years ago left a large scarp
that is visible on the hillside. Rattlesnake Creek, the primary tributary of Mission
Creek, runs through this park also. The channel is characterized by large boulders
due to the proximity of Skofield Park to the source of the debris flow. “…Boulders
exceeding stream competence suggest a debris flow origin during a previous
period of valley filling, perhaps under a climatic regime much different than
today” (Best et al 46).




S
)*+,%- . - The Mission Creek watershed is located on the southern side of the Santa
Ynez Mountain Range, north of Santa Barbara, California. Source: Jake Sahl.












4
Figure 2 – Mission Creek Watershed, with Rattlesnake Creek on the right in darker blue.
The yellow star marks Skofield Park, the site of our study. Source: Jake Sahl.






S
//0 1-$234#
0sing suiveying tools in the fielu we took measuiements of elevation
changes along the thalweg anu acioss two cioss sections of the stieam using a
hanu level anu measuiing iou. A measuiing tape was useu to measuie uistances
anu a compass was useu to take beaiings, which alloweu us to make oui
moiphologic map. To calculate bankfull, we fiist hau to ueteimine bankfull in the
fielu using inuicatois such as scouiing maiks on tiees anu iocks, lichen on
boulueis, anu wheie types of tiees giow. We measuieu the bankfull wiuth anu
max bankfull uepth aftei ueteimining this anu calculateu the mean bankfull
wiuth using the cioss section giaph to inteipolate bankfull uepths at a set
inteival acioss the bankfull wiuth anu took theii aveiage. The entienchment
iatio was too uifficult to calculate seeing that the stieam banks became steep
anu coveieu with poison soak at 2x the maximum bankfull uepth, so in this case
it is best to appioximate the entienchment iatio to be ~2.2. If one coulu measuie
elevations up to 2x the maximum bankfull uepth though, they woulu uiviue the
wiuth of the floou pione aiea by the bankfull wiuth. To calculate the slope we
useu a lineai tienuline of the longituuinal piofile to appioximate the watei
suiface giauient at bankfull.
We useu the following equations to calculate the iest of the uata neeueu
foi the Level 1 Rosgen classification:
567 8&$*39 :&;<=,>> 5*4$261-&; :&;<=,>> 7-?$2
@*;,3#*$A 9 B2&;;-> C-;+$26D&>>-A C-;+$2
B2&;;-> @>3?- 9 @>3?-6@*;,3#*$A
To analyze the seuiment size anu tianspoit foi the Level 2 Rosgen
classification we peifoimeu a pebble count of 1uu ianuom pebbles foi each of
the cioss sections anu useu a numbei of equations using the elevation anu
uistance measuiements. To finu the BSu anu B9u of each cioss section we
cieateu giain size uistiibution giaphs telling us what the uiametei was of the
giain sizes that Su% anu 9u% of the cumulative uistiibution was finei than. To
calculate the flow cioss sectional aiea (A) anu the length of the wetteu peiimetei
(P) we useu the cioss section giaphs to estimate the aiea below bankfull by
finuing the aiea of iectangles anu tiiangles anu the lengths of each of these
tiiangles siues to finu the length of theii hypotenuses using the Pythagoiean
theoiem. To calculate the hyuiaulic iauius (R) we useu the equation:
8 9 !6E
To estimate the Nanning ioughness coefficient (n) we useu a chait that
uesciibeu the uiffeient types of stieams giving us a iange of n anu a noimal n.


6
To estimate the velocity anu uischaige of each cioss section we useu
these equations:
F&F+ 9 .6;G8
H6I
@
.6H
J 9 ! G F&F+ K'3;$*;,*$A -L,&$*3;M
To calculate the total bounuaiy sheai stiess we useu the equation:
!
b
= "
w
gRS
To calculate the maximum uischaige we useu two uiffeient methous:
@2*->4# B%*$-%*& 7N&O 9 !
b
/[0.06("
s
-"
w
)g]
B3#$& K.PQIM 1-$234 7N&O 9 .R
K>3+K
!b/0.163))/1.213

III. Data
a. Stream Classification, Level 1

Table 1 – Data calculated for stream classification of Rosgen Level 1.
C3'&$*3; @<3=*->4 E&%<S !T!
.
@<3=*->4 E&%<S :T:
.
1&O :&;<=,>> 7-?$2 KNM u.8Su u.688
1-&; :&;<=,>> 7-?$2 KNM u.Su4 u.487
:&;<=,>> 5*4$2 KNM S.2uS S.9uu
U;$%-;'2N-;$ 8&$*3 ~2.2 ~2.2
567 8&$*3 1u.S24 12.122
@>3?- u.uS2 u.uS2
@*;,3#*$A 1.22u 1.22u
B2&;;-> @>3?- u.u27 u.u27
83#+-; C-F-> . B>&##*=*'&$*3; : :




7
)*+,%- I - Cioss Section A-A
1
of Rattlesnake Cieek (iefei to moiphologic map foi
location).




)*+,%- V - Cioss Section B-B
1
of Rattlesnake Cieek (iefei to moiphologic map foi
location).


u.uuu
u.2uu
u.4uu
u.6uu
u.8uu
1.uuu
1.2uu
1.4uu
1.6uu
1.8uu
2.uuu
u.uu 1.uu 2.uu S.uu 4.uu S.uu 6.uu 7.uu
U
>
-
F
&
$
*
3
;
"
3
F
-

!
%
"
*
$
%
&
%
A

7
&
$
,
N

K
N
M


7*#$&;'- =%3N E3*;$ ! KNM
B%3## @-'$*3; !T!
.
K8*=W>-M
Bankfull
X-Section A-A
1

0bseveu Flow
u.uuuu
u.2uuu
u.4uuu
u.6uuu
u.8uuu
1.uuuu
1.2uuu
1.4uuu
u.uu 1.uu 2.uu S.uu 4.uu S.uu 6.uu
U
>
-
F
&
$
*
3
;
"
3
F
-

!
%
"
*
$
%
&
%
A

7
&
$
,
N

K
N
M



7*#$&;'- =%3N E3*;$ : KNM
B%3## @-'$*3; :T:
.
KE33>M
0bseiveu Flow
Bankfull
X-Section B-B
1

8
)*+,%- X Y Longituuinal Piofile of Rattlesnake Cieek.




b. Fluvial Processes
In the reach we observed convergent flow causing scouring due to large
roughness elements (LREs), such as large boulders, creating a forced pool.
Divergent flow was observed in areas where deposition occurred, which were
characterized by sand and clay sized particle bars forming near the edges of the
streams current low water level. We also observed a low sinuosity as the stream
oscillated vertically more than laterally and has a steep gradient.
c. Channel Morphology
This reach of Rattlesnake Creek is a mountainous boulder-bedrock
channel that contains many large roughness elements (LREs). These LREs are
major factors in the morphology of the stream as they control scouring and
deposition. The LREs are too large to be moved by even extremely high flows
indicating that they were brought there by a debris flow 1000 years ago. The
morphology of the stream would be classified as step pool, with some forced
pools, as boulders and cobbles form steps across the channel creating pools after
them containing finer sediment that are relatively deeper than the rest of the
channel.

y = u.uS24x + u.uu9
-1.uuu
-u.Suu
u.uuu
u.Suu
1.uuu
1.Suu
2.uuu
7
.
u
u

1
2
.
8
u

1
S
.
8
4

1
7
.
7
u

1
9
.
u
u

2
1
.
6
8

2
4
.
S
u

2
8
.
u
u

S
u
.
u
u

S
4
.
u
u

S
7
.
u
u

S
8
.
2
6

S
9
.
7
u

4
2
.
1
S

4
S
.
u
u

S
9
.
S
u

4
1
.
S
u

4
8
.
8
u

S
u
.
2
u

S
2
.
9
u
u

S
7
.
4
u
u

6
u
.
2
u
u

6
1
.
7
u
u

6
S
.
2
u
u

6
4
.
u
u
u

6
6
.
S
u
u

6
8
.
u
u
u

U
>
-
F
&
$
*
3
;

!
"
3
F
-

!
%
"
*
$
%
&
%
A

7
&
$
,
N

K
N
M

7*#$&;'- KNM
C3;+*$,4*;&> E%3W*>-
Lineai Tienuline
Longituuninal Piofile
9

d. Sediment Size and Transport
Table 2 – Data calculated for stream classification of Rosgen Level 2.
C3'&$*3; @<3=*->4 E&%<S !T!
.
@<3=*->4 E&%<S :T:
.

Flow Cross Sectional Area, A (m
2
) 2.557 2.246
Length of Wetted Perimeter, P (m) 6.213 4.401
Hydraulic Radius, R (m) 0.4115 0.5104
D50 (cm) 5.000 5.000
D90 (cm) 44.000 44.000
Manning Roughness Coefficient, n 0.050 0.050
Slope, S 0.032 0.032
Average Velocity, v
avg
(m/s) 1.992 3.300
Discharge, Q (m
3
/s) 5.092 5.164
Density of Water, "
w
(kg/m
3
) 1000 1000
Acceleration due to Gravity, g (m/s
2
) 9.81 9.81
Total Boundary Shear Stress, !
b
(N/m
2
) 130.794 162.225
Density of Sediment, "
s
(kg/m
3
) 2650 2650
D
max
, Shields Criteria (m) 0.135 0.167
D
max
, Costa Method (m) 0.248 0.296
Rosgen Level 2 Classification 4 4










1u
Table 3 - Pebble count data for cross section A-A
1
.
Pebble Count Cross Section A -A
1

Median Diameter (cm)
0.50 3.00 4.50 8.00 30.00
1.00 3.00 4.50 8.00 35.00
1.00 3.00 4.50 8.00 35.00
1.00 3.00 4.50 9.00 37.00
1.00 3.00 4.50 9.00 40.00
1.00 3.00 4.50 10.00 42.00
1.50 3.50 4.50 14.00 42.00
1.50 3.50 4.50 14.00 42.00
1.50 3.50 5.00 15.00 44.00
2.00 3.50 5.00 15.00 44.00
2.00 3.50 5.00 15.00 45.00
2.00 3.50 5.50 15.00 50.00
2.00 3.50 6.00 17.00 50.00
2.00 3.50 6.00 18.00 60.00
2.00 3.50 6.50 20.00 60.00
2.50 4.00 7.00 20.00 70.00
2.50 4.00 7.00 20.00 75.00
2.50 4.00 7.00 22.00 80.00
3.00 4.00 7.50 22.00 85.00
3.00 4.50 8.00 26.00 85.00




11
Table 4 - Pebble count data for cross section B-B
1
.
Pebble Count Cross Section B-B
1

Median Diameter (cm)
0.50 1.90 3.50 6.00 9.00
0.50 1.90 3.50 6.00 9.00
1.00 1.90 3.60 6.00 9.00
1.00 2.00 3.70 6.20 9.00
1.00 2.00 4.00 6.20 9.00
1.10 2.00 4.00 7.00 9.50
1.10 2.00 4.50 7.00 10.00
1.20 2.00 5.00 7.00 10.00
1.30 2.00 5.00 7.00 11.00
1.30 2.10 5.00 7.50 12.00
1.40 2.10 5.00 7.50 12.00
1.40 2.10 5.00 7.90 12.00
1.50 2.40 5.50 8.00 12.00
1.50 2.40 5.50 8.00 13.00
1.60 2.50 5.60 8.00 13.00
1.60 2.50 5.70 8.00 15.00
1.60 2.60 6.00 8.00 17.20
1.60 2.70 6.00 8.00 18.00
1.70 3.00 6.00 8.00 21.00
1.80 3.00 6.00 8.50 30.00
12
Figure 6 – Grain size distribution graph for cross section A-A
1
.

Figure 7 – Grain size distribution graph for cross section B-B
1
.

u
1u
2u
Su
4u
Su
6u
7u
8u
9u
1uu
1 1u 1uu 1uuu
E
-
%
'
-
;
$

)
*
;
-
%

K
Z
M


E&%$*'>- @*[- KNNM
\%&*; @*[- 7*#$%*",$*3; !T!.
Cumulative Bistiibuton
BSu
B9u
u
1u
2u
Su
4u
Su
6u
7u
8u
9u
1uu
1 1u 1uu 1uuu
E
-
%
'
-
;
$

)
*
;
-
%

K
Z
M


E&%$*'>- @*[- KNNM
\%&*; @*[- 7*#$%*",$*3; :T:.
Cummulative Bistiibution
BSu
B9u
1S

/D0 7*#',##*3;
&0 83#+-; B>&##*=*'&$*3;
The Rosgen classification categoiizeu oui stieam as a B4 stieam.
Though the Rosgen classification system is veiy easy to use anu fast,
seeing as we all leaineu how to take the measuiements it iequiieu in one
fielu tiip, it has some issues. In oui measuiements alone we founu
uiffeiences between oui cioss sections values so it seems that it woulu be
veiy uifficult foi anothei stuuy to iepiouuce the same iesults as we got.
Foi example, oui wiuth to uepth iatios aie 1u.S24 foi cioss section A-A
1

anu 12.12S foi cioss section B-B
1
, which weie taken quite close to each
othei. This technically classifies oui stieam into two uiffeient Level 1
classifications as the wiuth to uepth iatio of A-A
1
is <12 anu of B-B
1
is
>12. The classification uoes pioviue a uecently iealistic chaiacteiization
of the stieam though as the calculations foi the aveiage velocity anu
sheai stiess piopeily iepiesenteu the fastei moving flow with gieatei
sheai stiess is at the iiffle in cioss section B-B
1
, while the slowei moving
flow with lessei sheai stiess is in the pool at cioss section A-A
1
. The
classification fails when it comes to categoiizing the uominate beu
mateiial type though as it was obviously bouluei anu cobble uominateu
but oui pebble counts inuicateu that giavel was the uominant beu
mateiial. While the Rosgen has it's uownfalls, oveiall it is a goou
communication anu geneial oiganization tool, but one shoulu be weaiy
about using it foi stieam management puiposes as it lacks analysis of
piocesses, stability anu evolution of the stieam.
"0 ]$2-% B>&##*=*'&$*3;#
*0 13;$+3N-%A &;4 :,==*;+$3;
The Nontgomeiy anu Buffington classification system foi
mountain stieams places oui ieach of Rattlesnake Cieek as an
alluvial ieach step pool. It chaiacteiizes the stieam as having
cobble-bouluei as the uominant beu mateiial, being a veitically
oscillatoiy beufoim pattein anu having uominant ioughness
elements being steps, pools, banks anu boulueis. It also
chaiacteiizes the stieams' uominant seuiment souice being uebiis
flows anu seuiment stoiage elements being beufoims. This
classification system steeis away fiom quantifying chaiacteiistics
of the stieam anu insteau focuses on the qualitative chaiacteiistics
though it uoes have some quantification. Foi example, "Step-pool,
morphology generally is associated with steep gradients, small width
to depth ratios, and pronounced confinement by valley walls”
14
(Montgomery and Buffington 597). The step pool classification
pioviues a veiy iealistic image of what the stieam looks like but
also gives insights into the piocesses anu evolution of the stieam
allowing us to pieuict futuie tienus. The Nontgomeiy anu
Buffington classification system is maue only foi mountainous
stieams, so theiefoie in this case is supeiioi to the Rosgen
classification.
ii. Schumm
Schumm's classification is baseu on type of beu loau,
channel pattein, anu stability as seen in Figuie 8. 0ui ieach of
Rattlesnake Cieek has a small seuiment loau anu since it can't
move the laigei clasts has a suspenueu loau, but the giauient is
high anu the channel pattein geneially stiaight. The stability is
high foi the stieam seeing that the velocity of the flow anu the
stieam powei aie both low. These contiasting chaiacteiistics
make the stieam extiemely uifficult to classify using this system
anu impossible to pin hole the stieam into anyone of the 6 types.

)*+,%- Q YSchumm's stieam classification system. Souice: Eu Kellei
Lectuie Rivei Classification.

1S
'0 )>,F*&> )3%N &;4 E%3'-##
Looking at the channel morphology allows us to understand the fluvial
processes taking place in the reach. As stated in the fluvial processes section earlier, we
observed convergent flow causing scouring due to large roughness elements (boulders)
creating a forced pool. Divergent flow was observed in areas where deposition occurred,
which were characterized by sand and clay sized particle bar. Scouring typically takes
place after the steps create pools due to the increase flow velocity and gradient, while
deposition occurs in lower flow regime areas of the stream as the stream power is not
great enough to carry the sediment load due to the areas low velocity and low gradient.
Overall, this step pool classified stream is more of a supply-limited system. “Bedload
studies in step-pool channels demonstrate complex relations between discharge and
sediment transport; transport rates are dependent on seasonal and stochastic sediment
inputs, flow magnitude and duration, and antecedent events.” It was also suggested in
1992 by Warburton that there are “three phases of sediment transport in step-pool
channels: a low-flow flushing of fines; frequent high-flow mobilization of pool-filling
gravel (also noted by Sawada et al.,1983); and less-frequent higher-discharge
mobilization of step-forming grains.” The formation of step pool spacing is dictated by
“low sediment supply and infrequent discharge capable of moving the coarsest sediment”
and the spacing “corresponds to the maximum flow resistance, providing stability for a
bed that would otherwise be mobile (Whittaker and Jaeggi, 1982; Abrahams et al, 1995)”
(Montgomery and Buffington 599). These processes drive the fluvial morphology and
evolution of the stream and it is continuously changing due to them.
D0 B3;'>,#*3;#
In this study we classified a reach of Rattlesnake Creek at Skofield Park using
the Level 1 and Level 2 Rosgen classification. In the process of classifying the stream
we discovered the benefits and the downfalls of the Rosgen classification system as it
provides a fast and easy means of classifying a stream, but lacks a comprehensive
analysis of the streams processes and evolution making it a dangerous tool to use for
stream management. Comparing it to the Schumm and the Montgomery and
Buffington classification systems we found that Schumm’s oversimplification and
lack of pairing options for characteristics made it impossible to classify our stream
with the data we had collected. The Montgomery and Buffington system not only was
easy to use but it provided a realistic description of the stream and gave us further
insight into the processes controlling the morphology of the stream, proving itself to
be the best classification tool for mountainous streams like Rattlesnake Creek reach at
Skofield Park.








16
References Cited

Best, D. W., and E. A. Keller. "Sediment Storage and Routing in A Steep
Boulder-Bed Rock-Controlled Channel." Proc. of Chaparral Ecosystems Research,
University of California Davis. Santa Barbara: University of California, 1985. 185-95.
Print.
Loáiciga, Hugo. “Description of Study Area” Geography 112 Environmental
Hydrology reader. Santa Barbara: University of California, Santa Barbara. 2012. 35.
Print.
Montgomery , David R. , and John M. Buffington . "Channel-reach morphology
in mountain drainage basins." Geologic Society of America Bulletin 109 (1997): 596-
611. gsabulletin.gsapubs.org. 5 March 2009.