Field study of flow resistance in step-pool streams (case study of Dizin River)

Document Type : Research Note


1 Faculty of Civil and Environment Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran

2 Faculty of Water and Environmental Engineering, Shahid-Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

3 Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran


A series of steps and pools are ubiquitous bed forms in mountain stream channels, occurring where gradients exceed 2% and materials are in the gravel to boulder size range. Flow resistance, reflected by roughness elements, appears to be an important control on bed load transport rates and mean flow velocity. To estimate flow resistance some morphological features and velocity were measured in the step-pool channel of Dizin River, located in Karaj River watershed in Iran. Topographic surveys and bed sediment sampling were made in low flow condition while three-dimensional velocity measurements were made in low, medium and high flow conditions. Gradient variations are in the range of 7% to 14%. As flow resistance is a function of geometric, bed material size, longitudinal slope and hydraulic radius, dimensional analysis was conducted to develop a non-dimensional relationship for flow resistance in step-pool reaches. Thereafter, it was calibrated for the measured data set of Dizin river and validated for Rio Cordon data set. Comparable results of validation with a river located in a different environment may suggest that flow resistance features in semi arid and humid streams may have similar effects on non-dimensional resistance coefficient


Main Subjects

1. Montgomery, D.R. and Bungton, J.M. \Channelreach
morphology in mountain drainage basins", Geological
Society of America Bulletin, 109(5), pp. 596-
611 (1997).
2. Grant, G., Swanson, F., and Wolman, G. \Pattern
and origin of stepped-bed morphology in high-gradient
streams, Western Cascades, Oregon", Geological Society
of America Bulletin, 102, pp. 340-352 (1990).
3. Chin, A. \The morphologic structure of step-pools in
mountain streams", Geomorphology, 27, pp. 191-204
4. Grant, G.E. \Hydraulics and sediment transport dynamics
controlling step-pool formation in high gradient
streams: a
ume experiment", In Dynamics and
Geomorphology of Mountain Rivers, Ergenzinger, P.,
Schmidt, K.H. (eds), Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences,
52, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 241-250 (1994).
5. Chin, A. \Step-pools in stream channels", Progress in
Physical Geography, 13(3), pp. 391-407 (1989).
6. Chartrand, S. and Whiting, P. \Alluvial architecture in
headwater streams with special emphasis on step-pool
topography", Earth Surface Processes and Landforms,
25, pp. 583-600 (2000).
7. Maxwell, A.R., Papanicolaou, A.N., Hotchkiss, R.H.,
Barber, M.E., and Schafer, J. \Step pool morphology
in high gradient countersunk culverts", Transportation
Research Record, 1743, pp. 49-56 (2001).
8. Yu, G.A., Wang, Z.Y., Zhang, K., Xuehua, D., and
Chang, T.C. \Restoration of an incised mountain
stream using arti cial step-pool system", Journal of
Hydraulic Research, 48(2), pp. 178-187 (2010). DOI:
9. Chin, A., et al. \Linking theory and practice for
restoration of step-pool streams", Environmental Management,
43, pp. 645-661 (2009). DOI:10.1007/s00267-
10. Nikseresht, A.H., Talebbeydokhti, N., and Rezaei,
M.J. \Numerical simulation of two-phase
ow on steppool
spillways", Scientia Iranica, 20(2), pp. 222-230
11. Chin, A. and Wohl, E. \Toward a theory for step pools
in stream channels", Progress in Physical Geography,
29(3), pp. 275-296 (2005).
12. Whittaker, J.G., Sediment Transport in Step-pool
Streams, Sediment Transport in Gravel Bed Rivers, pp.
545-579 (1987).
13. David, G.C.L., Wohl, E.E., Yochum, S.E., and Bledsoe,
B.P. \Controls on spatial variations in
resistance along steep mountain streams", Water
Resources Research, 46(3), pp. 1-21 (2010). DOI:
14. Canovaro, F. and Solari, L. \Flow resistance associated
to step-pool pattern", GBR6th Gravel Bed River Conference
(GBR6): Poster Abstract, pp. 45-47 (2007).
2548 A. Tahershamsi et al./Scientia Iranica, Transactions A: Civil Engineering 25 (2018) 2537{2549
15. Rickenmann, D. and Recking, A. \Evaluation of
resistance in gravel-bed rivers through a large eld
dataset", Water Resources Research, 47, pp. 1-23
(2011). DOI: 10.1029/ 2010WR009793
16. Zimmermann, A. \Flow resistance in steep streams:
an experimental study", Water Resources Research,
46(9), pp. 1-18 (2010). DOI:10.1029/2009WR007913
17. Judd, H.E., A Study of Bed Characteristics in Relation
to Flow in Rough, High- Gradient, Natural Channels,
UTAH State University, Logan, Utah (1963).
18. Chartrand, S.M., Jellinek, M., Whiting, P.J., and
Stamm, J. \Geometric scaling of step-pools in mountain
streams: observations and implications", Geomorphology,
129, pp. 141-151 (2011).
19. Curran, J.H., and Wohl, E. \Largewoody debris and

ow resistance in step-pool channels, Cascade range,
Washington", Geomorphology, 51, pp. 141-157 (2003).
20. McFarlane, W.A., and Wohl, E.E. \In
uence of step
composition on step geometry and
ow resistance in
step-pool streams of theWashington Cascades", Water
Resources Research, 39(2), pp. 1-13 (2003).
21. Wilcox, A. and Wohl, E.E. \Flow resistance dynamics
in step-pool channels: 1. Large woody debris and controls
on total resistance", Water Resources Research,
42(5), pp. 1-16 (2006).
22. Wilcox, A., Nelson, J.M., and Wohl, E.E. \Flow resistance
dynamic in step-pool channels: 2. Partitioning
between grain, spill, and woody debris
ow resistance",
Water Resources Research, 42(2005WR004278), pp. 1-
14 (2006).
23. Zimmermann, A. and Church, M. \Channel morphology,
gradient pro les and bed stresses during
ood in
a step-pool channel", Geomorphology, 40, pp. 311-327
24. Church, M. and Zimmerman, A. \Form and stability
of step-pool channels: research progress", Water Resources
Research, 43(W03415), pp. 1-21 (2007).
25. Wilcox, A.C., Wohl, E.E., Comiti, F., and Mao, L.
\Hydraulics, morphology, and energy dissipation in
an alpine step-pool channel", Water Resources Res.,
47(W07514) (2011).
26. Abrahams, A.D., Li, G., and Atkinson, J.F. \Step-pool
streams: adjustment to maximum
ow resistance",
Water Resources Research, 31(10), pp. 2593-2602
27. Lee, A.J. and Ferguson, R. \Velocity and
ow resistance
in step-pool streams", Geomorphology, 46, pp.
59-71 (2002).
28. Comiti, F., Mao, L., Wilcox, A., Wohl, E., and
Lenzi, M. \Field-derived relationships for
ow velocity
and resistance in high-gradient streams", Journal of
Hydrology, 21(3), pp. 48-62 (2007).
29. Ferguson, R. \Flow resistance equations for gravel
and boulder bed streams", Water Resources Research,
43(W05427), pp. 1-12 (2007).
30. Turowski, J.M., Yager, E.M., Badoux, A., Rickenmann,
D., and Molnar, P. \The impact of exceptional
events on erosion, bedload transport and channel
stability in a step-pool channel", Earth Surface Processes
and Landforms, 34, pp. 1661-1673 (2009). DOI:
31. D0Agostino, V. and Michelini, T. \On kinematics
ow velocity prediction in step-pool channels",
Water Resour. Res., 51, pp. 4650-4667 (2015). DOI:
32. Sindelar, C. and Smart, G. \Transition
ow in steppool
systems: Pressure distributions and drag", Journal
of Hydraulic Engineering, 142(10), pp. 1779-1988
(2016). DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0001165
33. Maddahi, M.R., Afzalimehr, H., and Rowinski, P.M.
\Flow characteristics over a gravel bedform: Kaj River
case study", Acta Geophysica, 64(5), pp. 1779-1796
34. SonTek, Flow Tracker Handheld ADV Technical Documentation,
San Diego, Calif (2001).
35. Rehmel, M. \Application of acoustic Doppler velocimeters
for stream
ow measurements", Journal of
Hydraulic Engineering, 133(12), pp. 1433-1438 (2007).
36. Wolman, M.G. \A method of sampling coarse riverbed
material", Trans. Am. Geophys. Union, 35(6), pp.
951-956 (1954).
37. Milhous, R.T., Hogan, S.A., Abt, S.R., and Watson,
C.C. \Sampling river-bed material: the barrel sampler",
Rivers, 5, pp. 239-249 (1995).
38. Shvidchenko, A.B. and Pender, G. \Flume study of
the e ect of relative depth on the incipient motion of
coarse uniform sediments", Water Resources Research,
36(2), pp. 619-628 (2000).
39. Chin, A. \On the stability of step-pool mountain
streams", Journal of Geology, 106, pp. 59-69 (1998).
40. Rickenmann, D. \Hyper concentrated
ow and sediment
transport at steep slopes", Journal of Hydraulic
Engineering ASCE, 117(11), pp. 1419-1439 (1991).
41. Aberle, J. and Smart, G.M. \The in
uence of roughness
structure on
ow resistance on steep slopes",
Journal of Hydraulic Research, 41(3), pp. 259-269
42. Bathurst, J.C. \At-a-site variation and minimum
resistance for mountain rivers", Journal of Hydrology,
269, pp. 11-26 (2002).
43. Buckingham, E. \On physically similar systems: illustrations
of the use of dimensional equations", Phys.
Rev., 4(4), pp. 345-376 (1914).
44. Judd, H.E. and Peterson, D.F. \Hydraulics of large bed
element channels", Report PRWG 17-6, Utah Water
Research Laboratory, Utah State University (1969).
45. Apelt, C.J. \Hydraulics of minimum energy culverts
and bridge waterways", Australian Civil Engineering
Transactions, I.E. Aust., CE25 2, pp. 89-95 (1981).
A. Tahershamsi et al./Scientia Iranica, Transactions A: Civil Engineering 25 (2018) 2537{2549 2549
46. Maxwell, A.R. and Papanicolaou, A. \Step-pool morphology
in high-gradient streams", International Journal
of Sediment Research, 16(3), pp. 380-390 (2001).
47. Abbasi, F. and Tabatabai, M.R.M. \Field investigation
of hydraulic and morphologic relationships along steppool
reach", Iran-Watershed Management Science &
Engineering, 3(7), pp. 35-42 (2009).