The role of extreme floods in shaping bedrock channels

Victor R. Baker, Vishwas S. Kale

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

70 Scopus citations


Alluvial river channels adjust readily to formative discharges of moderate magnitude and frequency. Bedrock river channels present various thresholds to effective channel adjustment, such that only relatively rare, highmagnitude flood discharges contribute to shaping their morphologies. Very high values of power per unit area of bed, exceeding 102 Wm-2, result in high-energy erosional processes, including cavitation and macroturbulent plucking. Although these processes are best exemplified in the Channeled Scabland and other late Pleistocene cataclysmic flood channels, they also can be achieved in modem bedrock gorges where very resistant rocks are acted upon by unusually large floods. Examples include the Katherine Gorge, northern Australia, and various gorges of the Narmada and Tapi Rivers in central India. Distinctive scabland-like morphologies occur, including wide, shallow bedrock surfaces with inner channels and narrow, deep gorges. As in alluvial rivers, there may be an adjustment to energy expenditure, but at a much higher level of energy associated with rare floods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRivers Over Rock
Subtitle of host publicationFluvial Processes in Bedrock Channels, 1998
EditorsKeith J. Tinkler, Ellen E. Wohl
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781118664292
ISBN (Print)9780875900902
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameGeophysical Monograph Series
ISSN (Print)0065-8448
ISSN (Electronic)2328-8779

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics


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