You are on page 1of 11

1/12/12 Llano River and Sandy Creek Basins - Fluvial Geomorphic GIS Analyses

Fluvial Geomorphic Analses of the Llano River and Sand Creek Basins, Central
Teas, Using Geographic Information Sstems (GIS) and Arc Hdro Tools
runkIIn T. HeILmuIIer
CE qqK
December q, zoo

RIver cIunneI udjusLmenL Ius Iong been u IundumenLuI LopIc oI IIuvIuI geomorpIoIogy. Two prImury dImensIons oI
LIIs LopIc concern conLroIs on cIunneI puLLern (pIunIorm geomeLry) und cIunneI sIupe (cross-secLIonuI geomeLry).
DIscIurge und sedImenL ure commonIy reIerenced us LIe conLroIs on cIunneI udjusLmenL. TIe mosL common Index oI
dIscIurge (m

Js) Is bunkIuII dIscIurge (Q

), wIIcI Is IrequenLIy reIuLed Lo LIe scuIe oI sIze oI cIunneI IeuLures. ndIces oI
sedImenL commonIy IncIude bedIoud (LonsJduy), bed muLerIuI sIze (mm), or bunk muLerIuI (% sIIL-cIuy), wIIcI ure reIuLed
Lo LIe sIupe oI u rIver cIunneI. MucI oI our knowIedge on LIe LopIc oI cIunneI udjusLmenL derIves Irom sLudIes In IumId
mId-IuLILude seLLIngs. RecenL sLudIes, Iowever, Iuve sIown LIuL specIIIc IndIces conLroIIIng cIunneI puLLern vury
regIonuIIy. TIIs Is purLIcuIurIy ImporLunL wIen consIderIng spuLIuI vurIubIIILy In cIunneI udjusLmenL uIong LrunsILIon zones
In IydroIogy und IILIoIogy, sucI us ure represenLed Ior druInuge sysLems wILIIn CenLruI Texus.
A sLudy oI LIe muLuuI udjusLmenL oI cIunneI puLLern und cIunneI sIupe oI sLreums druInIng LIe Edwurds PIuLeuu
und Iuno UpIIIL oI LIe Texus HIII CounLry, IncIudIng LIe Iuno RIver und Sundy Creek busIns (Igure 1), oIIers un
opporLunILy Lo exumIne conLroIs oI cIunneI udjusLmenL In u unIque seLLIng. TIe regIonuI cIImuLe Is cIurucLerIzed by u
LrunsILIon Irom eusLern subIumId condILIons Lo wesLern semIurId condILIons, und LIe IydroIogIc regIme oI LIe regIon Is
noLed Ior Iow perennIuI IIows puncLuuLed by exLreme IIoods (Igure z). AddILIonuIIy, rIver sedImenL drumuLIcuIIy
vurIes us u resuIL oI Lwo dIsLIncL IILIoIogIes, CreLuceous curbonuLe rocks ussocIuLed wILI LIe Edwurds PIuLeuu und
PuIeozoIc sedImenLury und Igneous rocks ussocIuLed wILI LIe Iuno UpIIIL. TIe IIusIy IydroIogIc regIme Ius ImporLunL
ImpIIcuLIons Lo udjusLmenL oI rIver cIunneIs In LIe regIon, purLIcuIurIy In exumInIng LIe vuIIdILy oI bunkIuII dIscIurge us u
conLroI on cIunneI geomeLry. Moreover, LIe sIurpIy conLrusLIng IILIoIogy provIdes un opporLunILy Lo observe Iow
cIunges In sedImenL Ioud uIIecL cIunneI sIupe und puLLern.

Figure 1. Mup oI sLudy ureu.

1/12/12 Llano River and Sandy Creek Basins - Fluvial Geomorphic GIS Analyses
Figre 2. Annal peak eamflo (m
/) fo he Llano Rie a Llano, Tea and compaion ih ohe ie in
imilal ied dainage bain.

Channel geome can be decibed in hee plane of adjmen: (1) planfom (efeed o a paen), (2) co-
ecion (efeed o a hape), and (3) longidinal (efeed o a he pofile). Common indice ed o decibe channel
paen inclde cae (adi of cae (m)/channel idh (m)), meande aelengh (m), inoi (), and
degee of channel diiion fo a gien each (Fige 3). Channel hape i mo commonl deemined b he aio of
bankfll idh (m) o deph (m), he peence of ba o iland, and he mme of hee componen. The channel
pofile i a plo of he bed eleaion along a each of inee. Thee plane of geomeic adjmen commonl hae been
independenl eamined (e.g., Leopold and Maddock 1953; Leopold and Wolman 1957; Schmm 1963; Fegon 1987;
Rogen 1994); hoee he hee plane eldom ae inegaed ih one anohe in die of mal adjmen (Fige

1/12/12 Llano River and Sandy Creek Basins - Fluvial Geomorphic GIS Analyses
Figre 3. Classification of channel pattern. Source: Church (1992), modified from Schumm (1985).

Figre 4. Model for mutual adjustment of channel slope, shape, and pattern of meandering rivers. Source: Rosgen

An adequate understanding of mutual adjustment of channel geometry in the Llano River and Sandy Creek basins
should be approached from a spatial context and organized in a spatial framework. A wide variety of fluvial geomorphic
parameters rely on spatial measurements, including, but not limited to, drainage area (km
), channel width (m), sinuosity
[channel length (m)/valley axis length (m)], radius of curvature (m), and slope (m/m). Clearly, the organization and
analysis of spatial data are integral to assessing fluvial geomorphic forms and processes. Currently, geographic
information systems (GIS) not only serve as the most widely accepted platform for storage and organization of fluvial
geomorphic data, but are also useful for a variety of geomorphic analyses.


The purpose of this report is to present a variety of procedures and techniques used to store, organize, and analyze
fluvial geomorphic data associated with the Llano River and Sandy Creek basins in Central Texas. Specifically, sections
below are devoted to: (1) the data and procedures necessary for stream and watershed delineation, (2) the creation of
longitudinal profiles, or plots of elevation with distance downstream, in the study area, and (3) an assessment of the
potential to model stream power (W/m
) in the study area.
Much of the work completed for the project was performed in ESRI ArcGIS 9.1 using Arc Hydro Tools. Maidment
(2002) provides a synthesis of concepts, techniques, and guidelines associated with Arc Hydro Tools. Hydrography and
elevation data used in the project were downloaded from the U.S. Geological Surveys National Hydrography Dataset
(NHD) website ( and Seamless Data Distribution System ( No field data
collection efforts were necessary for completion of the project.


Hydrography data were downloaded from the U.S. Geological Survey National Hydrography Dataset (NHD)
website ( High resolution (1:24,000) data were selected, and four subbasins were needed to cover
the Llano River and Sandy Creek basins (Figure 5). NHD data contain reach codes, feature names, and other codes to
uniquely identify river and stream reaches.

1/12/12 Llano River and Sandy Creek Basins - Fluvial Geomorphic GIS Analyses

Figre 5. HIgI resoIuLIon (1:zq,ooo) NuLIonuI HydrogrupIy DuLuseL (NHD) subbusIns Ior Iuno RIver und Sundy Creek

EIevuLIon duLu were downIouded Irom LIe U.S. GeoIogIcuI Survey SeumIess DuLu DIsLrIbuLIon SysLem websILe
( o- meLer und 1o-meLer dIgILuI eIevuLIon modeIs (DEMs) (Igure 6) were downIouded Lo
encompuss LIe Iuno RIver und Sundy Creek busIns. UnIorLunuLeIy, LIe 1o-meLer DEM conLuIned verLIcuI sLrIpes oI no
duLu, sLreLcIIng ucross LIe enLIre sLudy ureu Irom norLI Lo souLI. A second uLLempL Lo downIoud LIe 1o-meLer DEM wus
mude, yIeIdIng LIe sume resuIL. Jeun PurcIer, NuLIonuI MuppIng DIvIsIon Iuson oI LIe USGS In AusLIn, wus upproucIed
ubouL LIe no-duLu sLrIpe. As u resuIL, LIe correcL duLu were provIded on un exLernuI Iurd drIve Irom LIe USGS EurLI
Resources ObservuLIon und ScIence (EROS) DuLu CenLer. RecLunguIur DEM mosuIcs were creuLed Ior boLI LIe o- und
1o-meLer DEM puneIs usIng LIe RusLer CuIcuIuLor In SpuLIuI AnuIysL Ior ESR ArcMup q.1. TIe o-meLer DEM mosuIc Is
11o megubyLes und requIred z IndIvIduuI puneIs; LIe 1o-meLer DEM mosuIc Is 1.81 gIgubyLes und requIred 1z IndIvIduuI

Figre 6. 1o-meLer DEM mosuIc spunnIng LIe Iuno RIver und Sundy Creek busIns.


Arc Hydro TooIs (MuIdmenL zooz) In ESR ArcMup q.1 were used Lo generuLe IydroIogIc spuLIuI duLuseLs Ior LIe
sLudy ureu. TIe duLuseLs generuLed by Arc Hydro TooIs ure useIuI Ior sysLemuLIc deIIneuLIon oI rIver und sLreum
neLworks und wuLersIeds Irom DEMs. UnIque IdenLIIIcuLIon numbers, IncIudIng HydroD und DruInD, ure gIven Lo
sLreum reucIes und wuLersIeds. TIese ure useIuI In ussocIuLIng IydroIogIc duLu Irom LIe reucI scuIe Lo LIe wuLersIed
Procedures ImpIemenLed usIng Arc Hydro TooIs Ior LIe Iuno RIver und Sundy Creek busIns were: (1) IIII sInks In
LIe ruw o- und 1o-meLer DEM mosuIcs, (z) cuIcuIuLe IIow dIrecLIon grIds, () cuIcuIuLe IIow uccumuIuLIon grIds, (q)
cuIcuIuLe sLreum deIInILIon grIds, usIng u LIresIoId oI 1oo,ooo ceIIs (1o squure kIIomeLers) Ior LIe 1o-meLer DEM, ()
Norh Llano Rier
Soh Llano Rier
Llano Rier
Lake Bchanan and
1/12/12 Llano River and Sandy Creek Basins - Fluvial Geomorphic GIS Analyses
calclae eam egmenaion gid, (6) calclae cachmen gid, (7) poce dainage line, (8) poce adjoin
cachmen, (9) poce dainage poin, (10) delineae aehed a he ole of he Llano Rie, he Jame Rie,
Beae Ceek, and Sand Ceek ing bach poin poceing, (11) geneae HdoEdge and HdoJncion daae ing
Hdo Neok Geneaion.
The dainage diide donloaded fom he NHD and delineaed fom he 30- and 10-mee DEM ing Ac
Hdo Tool diffeed fom one anohe (Fige 7). The NHD bbain dainage diide i a genealied, hand-digiied line.
The dainage diide poceed fo he 30- and 10-mee DEM end o follo one anohe, b can baniall deiae
fom one anohe in paicla localiie. In one inance, a mall aea of he 10-mee delineaed aehed of he Llano
Rie a miing (Fige 8). Thi aea a eplaced b ing he Diole command (ESRI AcToolbo 9.1) on he
miing baehed and added o he 10-mee aehed ih he Append command (ESRI Toolbo 9.1). Undeied
eice inide he appended ecion ee manall emoed ding an edi eion in ESRI AcMap 9.1.

Figre 7. Dainage diide fom he NHD and poceed fom 30- and 10-mee DEM ing Ac Hdo Tool. The
noheaen edge of he Llano Rie bain epeen he mo eaggeaed deiaion of he hee daa oce.

Figre 8. Miing poion of he Llano Rie aehed ceaed fom he 10-mee DEM.

10-meer DEM
30-meer DEM
1/12/12 Llano River and Sandy Creek Basins - Fluvial Geomorphic GIS Analyses

ongILudInuI proIIIes ure pIoLs oI cIunneI bed eIevuLIon wILI dIsLunce downsLreum. TypIcuI IongILudInuI proIIIes oI u
rIver or sLreum ure cIurucLerIzed by u concuve-up sIupe wILI u sLeep sIope In LIe upper IeudwuLers LIuL gruduuIIy
decreuses wILI dIsLunce downsLreum. PIoLs oI eIevuLIon und dIsLunce Iuve been observed Lo Iuve u power, IogurILImIc, or
exponenLIuI Iorm (eopoId und ungbeIn 1q6z; Snow und SIIngerIund 1q8;; MorrIs und WIIIIums 1qq;). ProIIIes ure very
useIuI In IIuvIuI geomorpIIc unuIyses. SIopes ure vIsIbIe und cun be deLermIned Ior LIe overuII sysLem or Ior purLIcuIur
reucIes. CIunneI sIope Is u necessury purumeLer In compuLuLIon oI bed sIeur sLress (NJm
) und sLreum power (WJm
ongILudInuI proIIIes ure uIso useIuI In deLecLIng geoIogIc conLroIs on cIunneI sIope, IncIudIng resIsLunL bedrock ouLcrops. I
uvuIIubIe, u LIme serIes oI IongILudInuI proIIIes cun be used Lo Lruck LIe upsLreum ruLe oI cIunneI degruduLIon, possIbIy
Induced by unLIropogenIc cIunneI sLruIgILenIng or sedImenL depIeLIonJexLrucLIon.
Beuver Creek, u mujor LrIbuLury Lo LIe Iuno RIver, wus seIecLed Lo InvesLIguLe u process Ior creuLIng IongILudInuI
proIIIes In ESR ArcMup q.1. TIe IIgI-resoIuLIon NHD duLuseL wus used Ior cIunneI posILIons. IrsL, LIe sLreum segmenLs
comprIsIng LIe IongesL dIsLunce Irom LIe druInuge dIvIde Lo LIe ouLIeL oI Beuver Creek were combIned InLo one conLInuous
urc usIng LIe Merge IuncLIon In ESR ArcTooIbox q.1. NexL, LIe urc Ior Beuver Creek wus converLed Lo poInLs usIng LIe
XTooIs Pro exLensIon LooIbur, downIoudubIe uL (Igure q). TIe IuncLIon Ior LIIs conversIon Is
ConverL euLures Lo PoInLs, wIIcI uIIows un urc Lo be converLed Lo poInLs uL u user-specIIIed dIsLunce beLween poInLs. or
Beuver Creek, LIe dIsLunce beLween poInLs wus seL uL 1oo meLers. UnIorLunuLeIy, Lwo probIems ussocIuLed wILI LIe
poInLs compIIcuLed ussIgnIng u dIsLunce downsLreum: (1) unIque ObjecLD numbers were noL ussIgned In order Irom one
end Lo LIe oLIer, buL InsLeud wouId occur In ordered sLrIngs rundomIy posILIoned uIong LIe urc, und (z) LIe dIsLunce
beLween ordered sLrIngs dIIIered Irom 1oo meLers (Igure 1o). Becuuse oI LIese probIems, munuuI noLes were requIred
Lo keep Lruck oI LIe LoLuI dIsLunce downsLreum uL eucI poInL (Igure 11). TIe poInL LubIe wus exporLed Lo u .dbI IIIe und
MIcrosoIL ExceI zoo wus used Lo expedILe popuIuLIng eucI poInL wILI u dIsLunce downsLreum. NexL, eIevuLIons Irom LIe
1o-meLer DEM were ussIgned Lo LIe poInLs by usIng LIe ExLrucL VuIues Lo PoInLs IuncLIon In ESR ArcTooIbox q.1. TIe
poInL IeuLure cIuss wILI eIevuLIon vuIues wus joIned Lo LIe .dbI IIIe wILI downsLreum dIsLunces usIng LIe ObjecLD IIeId.
InuIIy, u IongILudInuI proIIIe wus pIoLLed Ior Beuver Creek (Igure 1z). ncreuses In eIevuLIon downsLreum ure uLLrIbuLed
Lo boLI LIe proxImILy oI LIe sLreum cIunneI Lo u sLeep vuIIey wuII und LIe resoIuLIon oI LIe DEM (Igure 1).

Figre 9. ESR ArcMup q.1 InLerIuce und LIe XTooIs Pro LooIbur. TIe urc Ior LIe Iuno RIver wus converLed Lo poInLs
wILI un InLervuI oI 1oo meLers.

1/12/12 Llano River and Sandy Creek Basins - Fluvial Geomorphic GIS Analyses

Figre 10. TIe ESR ArcMup q.1 Meusure TooI sIowIng LIe dIsLunce Is noL equuI Lo LIe user-desIgnuLed 1oo meLers
beLween Lwo ordered sLrIngs oI poInLs creuLed usIng LIe XTooIs Pro LooIs. TIe dIsLunce beLween poInLs Is 1oo meLers
wILIIn eucI ordered sLrIng.

Figre 11. MunuuI noLes Luken Lo keep Lruck oI dIsLunce downsLreum uL eucI poInL uIong Beuver Creek. TIe poInL wILI
ObjecLD 81 Is LIe IurLIesL poInL upsLreum. AII poInLs beLween 81 und qo ure 1oo meLers upurL. A new ordered sLrIng
begIns wILI ObjecLD ;, LIe dIsLunce beLween LIe Lwo ordered sLrIngs beIng ;1.8z meLers.

1/12/12 Llano River and Sandy Creek Basins - Fluvial Geomorphic GIS Analyses

Figre 12. Beae Ceek geneall dipla a concae-p longidinal pofile, b lope emain emakabl conan
beeen 8 and 60 kilomee doneam. Sligh inceae in eleaion doneam ae aibed o boh he poimi
of he eam channel o a eep alle all and he eolion of he DEM.

Figre 13. The poin highlighed in ble along Beae Ceek epeen a locaion hee eleaion inceae in a
doneam diecion. Thi i eplained b he poimi of he channel o he eep alle all and he eolion of he


Seam poe (W/m
) i commonl ed o ae edimen anpo (Bagnold 1977; Caon and Giffih 1987)
and channel geome (Fegon 1987; an den Beg 1995) in ie em. Seam poe (W/m
) a inodced b
Bagnold (1966) o ae edimen anpo, and can be defined a:
= UgdS, hee
1/12/12 Llano River and Sandy Creek Basins - Fluvial Geomorphic GIS Analyses
Is sLreum power per unIL bed ureu (WJm
U Is IIow veIocILy (mJs),
Is LIe densILy oI wuLer (1ooo kgJm

g Is gruvILuLIonuI ucceIeruLIon (q.8o mJs
d Is IIow depLI (m), und
S Is cIunneI sIope (mJm).
SLreum power (WJm
) cun uIso be LIougIL oI us LIe producL oI bed sIeur sLress (NJm
) und IIow veIocILy (mJs).
An InILIuI uLLempL Lo modeI sLreum power usIng GS sIouId begIn by ussIgnIng sIope Lo cIunneI segmenLs. IrsL, LIe
ruw 1o-meLer DEM mosuIc wus reprojecLed Lo LIe U.S. ConLIguous AIbers EquuI Areu projecLIon. UsIng LIe reprojecLed
ruw 1o-meLer DEM mosuIc oI LIe Iuno RIver und Sundy Creek sLudy ureu, LIe SIope IuncLIon Irom LIe SpuLIuI AnuIysL
LooIbur In ESR ArcMup q.1 wus ImpIemenLed Lo generuLe u percenL sIope grId (Igure 1q). NexL, LIe ZonuI SLuLIsLIcs
IuncLIon Irom LIe SpuLIuI AnuIysL TooIbur wus used Lo compuLe meun sIope Ior NHD urc segmenLs oI seIecLed rIver und
sLreum reucIes (Igure 1).

Figre 14. SIope grId generuLed by LIe SpuLIuI AnuIysL LooIbur In ESR ArcMup q.1. TIe ZonuI SLuLIsLIcs IuncLIon wus
LIen used Lo ussIgn meun sIope vuIues Lo seIecLed rIver und sLreum reucIes.

1/12/12 Llano River and Sandy Creek Basins - Fluvial Geomorphic GIS Analyses
Figre 15. Map of mean percent channel slope of the North Llano River, created in ESRI ArcMap 9.1 using the Zonal
Statistics function and a 10-meter slope grid.

The other parameters needed to model stream power (W/m
) are flow velocity (m/s) and flow depth (m). These
parameters can represent any given flow within the range of possible discharges of the river or stream. An initial
approach toward the application of these parameters to model stream power would be to choose a flow of interest, such as
bankfull discharge (m
/s). Field surveys of the channel reaches would also be necessary to characterize bankfull channel
depth (m). Assumptions of bankfull channel depth (m) may be empirically estimated from a plot of bankfull channel width
(m) and depth (m). Finally, mean flow velocity (U) (m/s) could be estimated from a flow resistance equation, such as the
DarcyWeisbach friction factor (f), defined as (Robert 2003):
f = 8gdS/U
, and
1/f = 2.11 + 2.03log
), and
, where
f is the dimensionless DarcyWeisbach friction factor,
is the equivalent sand roughness height (m), and
is the median bed-particle size (m).
Again, field surveys would be necessary to make appropriate assumptions of bed- particle size (m) for channel reaches.
Generally, a downstream decrease in bed-particle size (m) is observed, although tributaries and changes in lithology can
reverse this trend.


An analysis of channel geometry in the Llano River and Sandy Creek basins requires hydrologic data, including
drainage areas (km
), discharges (m
/s), and channel slope. Arc Hydro Tools in ESRI ArcMap 9.1 is an excellent platform
to generate and manage hydrologic data for fluvial geomorphic analyses. DEM processing in Arc Hydro Tools, combined
with downloadable NHD data provide the best spatial hydrologic datasets for the study area. Edits to DEM-generated
watersheds are common, but corrections are simple and do not compromise data quality. Using DEMs and NHD data,
longitudinal profiles of elevation and distance downstream can be produced in ESRI ArcMap 9.1, although tedious manual
tracking of downstream distance is involved. Finally, GIS has the potential to model stream power in river and stream
reaches. Slope is the parameter that is most easily modeled. Velocity and flow depth parameters require field
investigations, flow frequency assessments, and empirical assessments.

1/12/12 Llano River and Sandy Creek Basins - Fluvial Geomorphic GIS Analyses

Bagnold, R.A. 1966. An approach to the sediment transport from general physics. U.S. Geological Survey Professional
Paper 422I. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Bagnold, R.A. 1977. Bed load transport by natural rivers. Water Resources Research 13:303312.

Carson, M.A., and Griffiths, G.A. 1987. Bedload transport in gravel channels. Journal of Hydrology (New Zealand) 26:1

Church, M. 1992. Channel morphology and typology. In The river handbookVolume 1, eds. P. Calow and G.E. Petts,
126143: Oxford, England, Blackwell.

Ferguson, R.I. 1987. Hydraulic and sedimentary controls of channel pattern. In River channelsEnvironment and
process, ed. K.S. Richards, 129158. Oxford, England: Blackwell.

Leopold, L.B., and Langbein, W.B. 1962. The concept of entropy in landscape evolution. U.S. Geological Survey
Professional Paper 500A. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Leopold, L.B., and Maddock, T. 1953. The hydraulic geometry of stream channels and some physiographic implications.
U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 252. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Leopold, L.B., and Wolman, M.G. 1957. River channel patternsBraided, meandering, and straight. U.S. Geological
Survey Professional Paper 282B:3985. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Maidment, D.L., ed. 2002. Arc HydroGIS for water resources. Redlands, CA: ESRI Press.

Morris, P.H., and Williams, D.J. 1997. Exponential longitudinal profiles of streams. Earth Surface Processes and
Landforms 22:143163.

Robert, A. 2003. River processes. London: Arnold.

Rosgen, D.L. 1994. A classification of natural rivers. Catena 22:169199.

Schumm, S.A. 1963. Sinuosity of alluvial rivers on the Great Plains. Geological Society of America Bulletin 74:1089

Schumm, S.A. 1985. Patterns of alluvial rivers. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 13:527.

Snow, R.S., and Slingerland, R.L. 1987. Mathematical modeling of graded river profiles. Journal of Geology 95:1533.

van den Berg, J.H. 1995. Prediction of alluvial channel pattern of perennial rivers. Geomorphology 12:259279.