The most commonly used quantitative parameters for characterizing channel networks are derived from a Horton analysis (bifurcation ratios, stream length ratios, and so forth). Although these parameters give useful information about individual networks, they are generally ineffective in distinguishing differences in network structure due to lithologic controls and degree of maturity. As Shreve has noted, this failure is due in part to the random nature of network topology and link lengths and in part to the fact that the Horton analysis tends to average out many of the details that characterize such differences. Parameters derived from considerations of statistical geometric similarity, on the other hand, are relatively successful in characterizing network structure. For a simple example, let le and li be the mean exterior and interior link lengths, respectively, and ae and ai be the means of the associated drainage areas. Four dimensionless parameters that can be constructed from this set are λ = le/li α = ae/ai Ke = le2/ae and Ki = li2/ai. Data on λ, α, Ke and Ki for natural networks drawn from different geologic populations indicate that these quantities are effective in detecting differences due to varying lithology and degree of maturity.
Water Resources Research – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 1972
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