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Morphometric Controls and Basin Response in The Cascade Mountains

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Morphometric variables associated with 36 debris torrent, 78 snow avalanche, 45 composite debris torrent and snow avalanche and 14 streamflow basins in the Cascade Mountains of southwestern British Columbia, Canada are examined. The results show significant statistical differences in top and bottom elevations, relief, channel length and gradient, basin area, fan gradient and area, and basin ruggedness between snow avalanche basins and the two basin types affected by debris torrents, reflecting the very different nature of these processes. Only top and bottom elevations and fan area differ significantly between debris torrent and debris torrent-snow avalanche basins, implying that the latter are probably debris torrent basins in origin. As many as six morphometric variables are significantly different between streamflow basins and the other basin types, allowing the former to be differentiated despite their small, steep character. Discriminant analysis indicates that bottom elevation and channel or path gradient are the best variables for classifying the four basin types by process. Generally strong correlations exist between basin area on the one hand and relief, channel length and channel gradient on the other in debris torrent, debris torrent-snow avalanche, and streamflow basins. Fan gradient and area are, however, weakly or modestly correlated with basin area or ruggedness. No such morphometric relations are present in snow avalanche basins. The results of this study also indicate that in debris torrent-prone basins the fan gradient and Melton's R have identifiable lower thresholds while basin area has an upper threshold, but use of these thresholds for identification of debris torrent hazard is complicated by overlapping thresholds for streamflow basins.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, Okanagan University College, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, 2: Department of Geography, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 3: Department of Geography, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Publication date: 2001-10-01

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