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A Study of the Changes in River Processes

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A Study of the Changes in River Processes


This is a study of the changes in river processes along the long
profile of a river. To study this we will use a sample river. The
river the study will be based on Loughton Brook, which is a river
situated in Epping Forest in Essex and is also a tributary of the
river Thames. A journey will be made to the river and measurements
will be made at three different sites. The measurements that were
taken will be studied so conclusions can be made about the changes to
characteristics of a river with distance downstream.


Aims and Hypotheses

The overall aim of this study is to investigate the changes in river
characteristics downstream along Loughton Brook.

To investigate these changes in more detail a range of hypotheses will
be tested. These hypotheses are:

1. The width of the river channel will increase with distance
downstream.

I expect to find this because in the long profile of a river channel
width increases. This is because there is a greater volume of water at
a faster velocity. This causes more hydraulic power erosion in the
river channel downstream, which makes the channel wider.

2. The depth of the river channel will increase with distance
downstream.

I am expecting to find this because as the velocity of the river
increase further downstream there will be more hydraulic power erosion
which will cause the river to become deeper.

3. The wetted perimeter increases with distance downstream.

This is because I expect the depth and width increase so the wetted
perimeter must also increase.

4. The gradient will decrease with distance downstream.

I expect to find this because in the long profile of a river the
further downstream along the river the less high the river is above
its base level.

5. The velocity increases with distance downstream.

I expect to find this because as the river flows downstream there will
be a larger volume of water. This is because as the river travels
downstream more water will accumulate in the channel as the water
enters the river from the drainage basin.

6. The bed load size will decrease with distance downstream.

This is because I expect the velocity of the river to increase and so
there will be more erosion of the rocks. This type of erosion is
attrition and as the rocks collide because of this they will break up
and become smaller.

7. The bed load shape (roundness and smoothness) should increase with
distance downstream.

This is because as the velocity of the river increases further down
stream there will be more attrition as the rocks collide causing the
rocks to become rounder.

8. The cross-sectional area of the river channel increases with
distance downstream.

I expect to find this because I expect the depth and width to increase
with distance downstream and these results will be use in the
calculation to find the cross-sectional area. Also this is because I
expect the velocity to increase and so there will be more hydraulic
power erosion, which will make the cannel larger.

9. There is a relationship between the depth and width of the river.

I expect to find this because further down the river the depth and
width both increase because there is an increased velocity because
there is a greater volume of water. This increased velocity will cause
more hydraulic power erosion which will cause the channel to widen and
deepen.

10.


Location Description

The study that will be carried out will be based in Loughton Brook,
which is in Epping Forest in Essex. The forest around Loughton Brook
has been there for 5000 years. In 1878 an act was passed to stop
development of the forest area and the site is now a SSSI (site of
special scientific interest so there are still many trees large, old
new and a lot of vegetation in the Loughton Brook drainage basin. The
area was a good site for the investigation because it has a field
centre, which has information on the river and also because it is
local. The river also is a tributary of the river Thames.

The ground in the area is mostly soil with leaves covering it. At the
source of the river the soil is Pebble Gravel soil, a light brown/
orange coloured, sandy type of soil. This grainy consistency of the
soil causes it to be porous and so easy for water to seep through.
This can cause the soil to be damp and this is why the source of the
river is a very saturated collection point of water with areas of very
wet ground. The water seeps through the soil and into the river by
infiltration and water can only be seen clearly at the source after
rainfall because Loughton Brook is a flashy river so the water seeps
quickly into the river channel and flows away downstream. During the
months of April – September, when there is less rain, there is hardly
any water in this part of the river unless it rains.

The drainage basin of Loughton Brook is fairly small so the river
features and processes are present but on a smaller scale and not
always very obvious. Further along the upper course of Loughton Brook
the soil is Clay Gate Beds. This type of soil is a grey/ brown colour
and its consistency is like plasticine. It is also impermeable so
water cannot pass through easily and flows towards the river instead
of infiltrating downwards. This type of soil continues along the river
until there is London Clay, which is impermeable like the Clay Gate
Beds. Other features of the area of Epping Forest are that there are
roads passing through the forest and the Epping New Road crosses
Loughton Brook. There are also footpaths, nature trails and a Tea Hut
for the public.

The spring at the start of the Loughton Brook river. There is not much
water because this is a flashy river so the water reaches the channel
very fast.

[IMAGE][IMAGE]
Site Descriptions

Site 1

At this site there was a relatively steep river valley with a leafy
covering on the ground of the river valley sides. The valley did not
have a steep gradient because of the clay soil, which slips down the
bank of the river. The trees on the river valley helped to hold the
soil together. On the left bank there was a steep river cliff and on
the right bank there was an over hang caused by the erosion hydraulic
power erosion of the riverbank. The tree roots held this soil together
as well and also reduced the erosion slightly because the river had to
flow around the roots. The main forms of vegetation were trees. The
river channel was relatively straight and the water was clear. There
was not much water in the river at this site because the water level
increases only after rainfall because the Loughton Brook is a flashy
river so the water quickly flows away. Also in the channel there were
small waterfalls and debris dams and these could affect the results.


Site 2

At this site the river valley sides are less steep and there is a
leafy covering here as well. The soil is Clay Gate Beds and the
vegetation is trees and moss. The right river cliff is steep and on
the left bank there is undercutting due to erosion. There is a large
tree root that stops the river cliff overhang from falling into the
river but the river cliff will eventually collapse. There is sinuosity
of the river channel, caused by erosion of the softer rock and not the
harder rock, but there are no actual meanders at this point on the
river. The water in the river channel is clear and shallow and the
small pebbles on the bottom of the river channel can be seen. There is
a man made log dam in the river channel at about three metres upstream
that may affect the result.


Site 3

There is still a leafy covering on the banks of the river valley but
the valley is now flat. There are meanders at this point on the river
so on the right bank there is an undercut river cliff due to but on
the left bank, which is the inside of the meander, there is a
relatively flat bank covered with small pebbles caused by deposition.
The meanders at some points are very large and one is nearly an oxbow
lake. On the inside of this meander there is a tree which slows down
the erosion because it holds the soil together. This slows the process
of the meander becoming larger and eventually becoming an oxbow lake.
There are riffles in the river where the readings of velocity are
faster and there are pools where the readings are slower. The
measurements our group took were from a pool so the results may be
slower. The water in the river channel is brown, because the river is
carrying material that it had eroded, so the bottom of the river
channel could not be seen.


[IMAGE][IMAGE]
Methodology

The primary data that was obtained was collected at Loughton Brook
river. This particular river was chosen because it is has the features
and processes of a river for us to study. The river is situated in
Epping Forest, which is not only local to the school, but has a good
field centre where extra secondary information can be collected. Also
Loughton Brook flows into the river Roding which is a tributary of the
river Thames.

The three sites were chosen because they were at the upper, middle and
lower course of the river. This was ideal because the results from
each site could then be compared easily so the hypotheses about how a
river changes downstream could be tested.


Primary and Secondary Data

The information collected for this investigation is found in two
forms, which are Primary and Secondary data. Primary data is the data
that was collected first hand at the study of the river whereas
Secondary data is the information that is usually obtained by
research. The data collected on the day of the trip was primary data
and the information we collected at the field centre was secondary
data. To collect the primary data, the following range of equipment
was used:

· 1 metre ruler

· clinometer

· cork

· paper

· pencils

· stop watch

· tape measure

· 2 metre ranging poles

PHOTO


Methods


To test the series of hypotheses a range of methods were used. These

are the methods used to test each hypothesis:

Hypothesis 1: The width of the river channel will increase with
distance downstream.

To investigate this we measured with the tape measure from one bank to
the other across the top of the water from the edge of the water. This
method was quite good but the river had wider parts and thinner parts
within a few metres of each other. If the measurements were taken at a
particularly wide or thin place then the results would be affected. To
solve this, measurements could be taken in more than one place at each
site and then the average of these results could be used.

Hypothesis 2: The depth of the river channel will increase with
distance downstream.

For this we used a 1 metre ruler to measure from the river bed to the
top of the water three times at regular intervals across the channel.
Then we took the average of these results. We did this because across
the river channel from one bank to the other the water is at different
depths especially on a meander. By using the average three depths at ¼
of the way, half way and ¾ of the way across the river the results for
each site will be easier to compare.

Hypothesis 3: The wetted perimeter increases with distance downstream.

We tested this by measuring along the bottom of the channel, from the
edge of the water on one bank to the other, with a tape measure and
then recorded the results. This method works well only if the is
clear, but if the water is not clear and the bottom of the river
cannot be seen then we could not measure the river accurately. Also
there were stones and debris on the river bed which could have
affected the results.

Hypothesis 4: The gradient will increase with distance downstream.

To measure the gradient we used a clinometer with the two ranging
poles. The ranging poles were placed three metres apart and then the
clinometer was lined up using the stripes on the ranging poles. This
method was quite difficult and it was easy to make an error. This was
because the clinometer was difficult to line up with the ranging poles
an d also the gradients were so small that it was difficult to read
the results from it. Another problem was that the result was based on
the opinion of the person taking the measurement, which may not be
very accurate. The results could be more accurate if they are taken
more than once at each site.

Hypothesis 5: The velocity increases with distance downstream.

We investigated this by measuring how long took for a cork to float
one metre downstream. We did this three times and used the average of
these results to find the average velocity. This was a more difficult
method to follow accurately especially in shallow water where the cork
would often become stuck on pebbles or debris on the riverbed. The
cork did not always float in a straight line or floated to the side,
which affected the results. Also at different parts of the river
channel, the velocity is not the same for example the velocity of
inside of a meander is slower than the outside of the meander. The
results would depend on where the cork floated. A more accurate way of
measuring the velocity than using the cork would be using a flowmeter.

Hypothesis 6 and 7: The bed load size will decrease with distance
downstream but the shape (roundness and smoothness) should increase
with distance downstream.

To measure this we picked ten random pebbles from the river bed at
each site. We then used the roundness and sphericity index, which we
were given at the field centre, to see how round and smooth each
pebble was and then measured the pebbles at their longest point to
find if the shape changed downstream. The roundness index was not very
accurate because the results were based on someone’s opinion and not
on a proper measurement. Also only a very small sample of pebbles were
taken and these may not necessarily be representative of the all the
pebbles at the site.

PHOTOS


D,A,T,A,P,R,E,S,E,N,T,A,T,I,O,N
Channel Cross Section

Diagram – Site 1

Depth was measured at three points across the river channel, at ¼,
half way and ¾ of the distance across the river. Therefore, to produce
the cross section, the points plotted on the Average Channel Width
axis needed to be calculated with this method:



Average channel width (m) = 3.5 =
0.875m
4 4
===============================================

Hydraulic Radius

This calculation shows the efficiency of the river channel and is
measured in metres. The larger the Hydraulic Radius the faster the
flow of the river therefore the river more is efficient.

Hydraulic radius is calculated using this method:

Hydraulic Radius =

Cross-sectional Area (m2)

=

0.11

=

0.120m

Wetted Perimeter (m)

0.91

Channel Cross Section

Diagram – Site 2

Depth was measured at three points across the river channel, at ¼,
half way and ¾ of the distance across the river. Therefore, to produce
the cross section, the points plotted on the Average Channel Width
axis needed to be calculated with this method:



Average channel width (m) = 3.4 =
0.875m 4
4
=========================================================

Hydraulic Radius

This calculation shows the efficiency of the river channel and is
measured in metres. The larger the Hydraulic Radius the faster the
flow of the river therefore the river more is efficient.

Hydraulic radius is calculated using this method:

Hydraulic Radius =

Cross-sectional Area (m2)

=

0.12

=

0.128m

Wetted Perimeter (m)

0.94


Channel Cross Section

Diagram – Site 3

Depth was measured at three points across the river channel, at ¼,
half way and ¾ of the distance across the river. Therefore, to produce
the cross section, the points plotted on the Average Channel Width
axis needed to be calculated with this method:



Average channel width (m) = 3.6 = 0.875m
4 4
====================================================================

Hydraulic Radius

This calculation shows the efficiency of the river channel and is
measured in metres. The larger the Hydraulic Radius the faster the
flow of the river therefore the river more is efficient.

Hydraulic radius is calculated using this method:

Hydraulic Radius =

Cross-sectional Area (m2)

=

0.19

=

0.186m

Wetted Perimeter (m)

1.02


Channel Cross-section diagrams

The cross-sectional area diagrams are linked to the hypotheses the
width of the river channel will increase and the depth of the river
channel will increase with distance downstream. This type of graph was
used because it is easy to see the shape and size of the channel so it
is easier to compare the average channel size of each site.

Hydraulic radius – the hydraulic radius increases at each site. It
increases from 0.120m at Site 1 to 0.186m at Site 3 and this means the
efficiency of the channel increases at each site.

Depth and Width Bar Chart

This comparative bar chart is connected to the hypotheses the width of
the river channel will increase and the depth of the river channel
will increase with distance downstream. This graph compares the
average width and depth and was used because it shows clearly whether
the depth and width are connected.

As the depth increases the width also increases on this graph. The
deepest channel is the river channel at Site 3, the shallowest is at
Site 1. The widest channel is at Site 3 and the thinnest is at Site 1.

Wetted Perimeter Comparative Bar Chart

This graph is related to the hypothesis the wetted perimeter increases
with distance downstream. This type of graph was chose to compare the
wetted perimeter of the three sites.

The wetted perimeter increases over the three sites and this is shown
on the graph as Site 1 being the lowest at 0.913 and Site 3 the
highest at 1.018.


Gradient Comparative Bar Chart


This graph is connected to the hypothesis the gradient will decrease
with distance downstream. This type of graph was chosen because the
gradient of the three sites can be compared. The gradient decreases
over the three sites and this can be seen on the graph as Site 1 is
the highest with an average gradient of 2.6o and Site 3 is the lowest
with a gradient of 1.6o.


Velocity Scatter Graph

This graph is associated with the hypothesis velocity increases with
distance downstream. This type of graph was used because it is clear
if there is a correlation between the velocity and the distance
downstream.

There is a positive correlation between the velocity and the distance
downstream. The lowest velocity is at Site 1 and is 0.036 m/s. The
highest is at Site 3 and is 0.638 m/s although this result is also one
of the two anomalies marked on the graph.


Pebble Roundness and Sphericity Pictogram

The pictogram related to the hypothesis pebble roundness and
sphericity increases with distance downstream. This type of chart was
used because it shows clearly what types of pebbles are at each site.

The chart shows that the further downstream the site is, the more
well-rounded the pebbles are for example there are three very angular
pebbles in site 1 but none in site 2 and none in site 3. In site 1
there is only one well-rounded pebble and in site 2 there are three
and in site 3 there are three.


Pebble Size Cumulative Frequency Graphs

This graph is associated with the hypothesis bed load size will
decrease with distance downstream. These graphs show the cumulative
frequency of the pebble long axis size at the different sites. This
type of graph was chosen because from the graph the approximate median
result can be calculated. These can then be compared over the three
sites.

The approximate median long axis varies over each site and from these
results no relationship can be seen between pebble size and distance
downstream. The approximate median for Site 1 is 2.35cm for Site 2 it
is 3.6 and for Site 3 it is 2.4. The lack of connection between these
results may be because there may be an anomaly where the curve is not
smooth in the results for Site 1 as circled on the graph. This may
have made the median higher than necessary.
Cross-sectional Area Target Graph

This type of graph was chosen because it is easy to see the increase
in cross-sectional area over each site. This graph shows that over the
three Sites the cross-sectional area increases. Site 3 has the largest
cross-sectional area and is represented on the graph as 100%. The
cross-sectional area of Site 1 is 58% of the cross-sectional area of
Site 3 and the cross-sectional area of Site 2 is 63% of the
cross-sectional area of Site 3.


Hydraulic Radius, Velocity and Wetted Perimeter Radar Graph

This graph compares the hydraulic radius, velocity and the wetted
perimeter. This graph shows that as the velocity and wetted perimeter
increase at each site the Hydraulic radius decreases.


Velocity and Gradient scatter graph


Cross-sectional Area Target Graph

This type of graph was chosen because it is easy to see the increase
in cross-sectional area over each site. This graph shows that over the
three Sites the cross-sectional area increases. Site 3 has the largest
cross-sectional area and is represented on the graph as 100%. The
cross-sectional area of Site 1 is 58% of the cross-sectional area of
Site 3 and the cross-sectional area of Site 2 is 63% of the
cross-sectional area of Site 3.


Hydraulic Radius, Velocity and Wetted Perimeter Radar Graph

This graph compares the hydraulic radius, velocity and the wetted
perimeter. This graph shows that as the velocity and wetted perimeter
increase at each site the Hydraulic radius decreases.


Velocity and Gradient scatter graph


D,A,T,A,I,N,T,E,R,E,R,P,A,T,T,I,O,N
Data Interpretation


Graph 1 – Bar Chart to Show Average Depth and Average Width of the
River Channel

Overall the bar chart shows that the average depth and width of the
river increases with distance downstream. This supports the first two
hypotheses. This is obvious because the bar at Site 3 is higher than
the bar at Site 1 for both average width and average depth on this
graph.

The graph supports the hypothesis that the width of the river
increases with distance downstream. This is visible on the graph
because the average width increased from 0.84m at Site 1 to 0.98m at
Site 3. This increase of 0.14m is evidence for the hypothesis.

Also from this graph it is evident that the average depth of the river
increases with distance downstream which supports the second
hypothesis. This is apparent because the average depth increases from
0.18m at Site 1 to 0.20m at Site 3. This increase, although it is
small, at 0.02 m supports the hypothesis.


Graph 2 – Scatter Graph to Show Average Depth and Average Width of the
River Channel

This scatter graph shows that there is correlation between average
width and average depth. Both average width and average depth increase
with distance downstream. This is apparent on the graph because the
line of best fit shows a quite strong positive correlation. This is
backed up by the spearman rank correlation test that was used which
shows a relationship of __% and this is a good correlation.


Graph 3 – Target Graph Showing Average Cross-Sectional Area of the
Three Sites

The target graph shows clearly that the average cross-sectional area
increases with distance downstream. This is clearly visible from the
graph because the average cross-sectional area at Site 1 is 0.11m2 and
the average cross-sectional area increases from this to 0.19m2 at Site
3. This is an increase of 0.08m2 over the three sites and this
demonstrates the eighth hypothesis.


Graphs 4,5 and 6 – Cross-section Diagrams

Overall these three graphs show that the channel gets deeper and wider
over the three sites. At Site 1 the deepest part of the river was
0.23m and at Site 3 it is 0.25m deep which is an increase of 0.02m.
Also at Site 1 the river was 3.5m wide but at Site 3 it was 3.6 m wide
so the was an increase in width of 0.1m over the three Sites. This is
only a slight increase but this may be because the size of the
Loughton Brook River is small so I would not expect to see a large
change. Also the shape of the three diagrams shows that the left side
of the river is deeper than the right side. This may be due to erosion
of the left side and deposition on the right side, which suggests that
the flow of the river is faster on the left hand side than the right.

Graph 4 is the river cross-section diagram for Site 1. It shows that
the river cannel is 3.5m wide and at its deepest point it is 0.23m
deep. The shape of the riverbed can be seen using this graph. It shows
that the left hand side measurement of the river is deeper at 0.23m
than the right hand side measurement at 0.085m. This difference of
0.145m may be due to the erosion and deposition on the riverbed.

Graph 5, the diagram for Site 2, shows that the river channel is 3.4m
wide which is 0.1m narrower than at Site 1 and also the river is 0.22m
deep at the deepest point which is 0.01m shallower than the
measurement for Site 1. The left side is deeper than the right side
like it is in Site 1. The left side measurement is 0.22m deep and the
right side measurement is 0.09m deep. Again the difference of 0.13m
may be due to erosion and deposition.

Graph6 is the cross-section at Site 2. The diagram shows that the
channel is wider than the channel at the other two sites as it is 3.6m
wide and is also deeper at 0.25m deep at the deepest point. This is
wider than Site 1 by 0.1m and deeper by 0.02m. The left side
measurement is 0.25m, which is deeper than the right side measurement
that is 0.11m deep. This is a difference of 0.14m. The difference may
be caused by erosion and deposition.



Graph 7 – Graph Comparing Average Wetted Perimeter Over the Three
Sites
=================================================================

The comparative bar chart shows that the average wetted perimeter
increased from 0.91m at Site 1 to 1.00m at Site 3. This increase of
0.09m is evidence for the hypothesis that the wetted perimeter
increases with distance downstream.


Graph 8 – Graph Comparing Average Gradient Over the Three Sites

The comparative bar chart shows clearly that the average gradient
decreases from 2.6o at Site 1 to 1.0o at Site 3. This decrease of 1o
supports the hypothesis that the gradient will decrease with distance
downstream.


Graph 9 – Scatter Graph Showing Correlation Between Average Surface
Velocity and Distance Downstream


This graph shows a correlation between the surface velocity and the
distance downstream. This means that the further downstream the river
is the faster the velocity of the river. This is evident because the
line of best fit shows a strong positive correlation. This is evidence
for the hypothesis the velocity increases with distance downstream.
There are two anomalies on the graph one for group 10 a Site 3 because
the velocity was measured at 0.64m/s, which is 0.5m/s higher than the
highest of the rest of the measurements for Site 3. The other anomaly
is for group 7 also at Site 3. This was measured at 0.05m/s, which is
lower than the measurements for the rest of group 7’s velocity
results. This is anomalous because the other groups have an increase
over the three sites but group 7 have a decrease. These anomalous
results at Site 3 may have be caused by measurements being taken in
riffles or pools.
----------------------------------------------------------------------


Graph 10 – Radar Graph to Show a Comparison Between Wetted Perimeter,
Hydraulic Radius and Velocity


This graph shows that the Hydraulic radius decreases from
---------------------------------------------------------



Graph 11 – Pictogram to Show Pebble Roundness and Sphericity
============================================================

The Pictogram shows clearly that the pebbles collected at Site 1 are
more angular than at Site 3. At Site 1 there are mostly angular
pebbles and very few rounder ones but at Site 3 there are mostly
rounded pebbles but no angular pebbles.

The chart shows that at Site 1 there are three very angular pebbles,
two sub rounded pebbles and only one well-rounded pebble. The pebbles
collected at Site 2 are rounder than at Site 1 because there are no
very angular pebbles, three sub rounded and three well-rounded
pebbles. At Site 3 there are no angular pebbles, three sub rounded
pebbles and three well-rounded pebbles.

This is evidence for the hypothesis that the bed load shape (roundness
and smoothness) should increase with distance downstream.


Graphs 12, 13 and 14 – Cumulative Frequency Curve of Pebble Long Axis

From these cumulative frequency curves the approximate median length
of the pebbles can be found. This can be used to compare the data for
the pebble length more easily.

Graph 12 shows the cumulative frequency curve for the long axis of the
pebbles at Site 1. At Site 1 the approximate median long axis length
is 2.35cm.

Graph 13 is the cumulative frequency curve for Site 2 and it shows
that the estimated median long axis length is 3.6cm. This is longer
than the median for Site 1 by 1.25cm.

The last cumulative frequency curve is for Site 3 and this from this
graph the approximate median length is 2.4cm. This is longer than Site
1 by 0.5cm but shorter than the pebbles at Site 2 by 1.2cm.

Overall the pebbles at Site 1 are shorter than the pebbles at Site 3
but only by 0.5cm. The pebbles At Site 2 are the longest at 3.6cm
although there may be an anomaly. This may be the reason that the
results that were obtained do not entirely follow the hypothesis that
the bed load size will decrease with distance downstream.

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