The principle that formative events, punctuated by periods of evolution, recovery or temporary periods of steady‐state conditions, control the development of the step–pool morphology, has been applied to the evolution of the Rio Cordon stream bed. The Rio Cordon is a small catchment (5 km2) within the Dolomites wherein hydraulic parameters of floods and the coarse bedload are recorded. Detailed field surveys of the step–pool structures carried out before and after the September 1994 and October 1998 floods have served to illustrate the control on step–pool changes by these floods. Floods were grouped into two categories. The first includes ‘ordinary’ events which are characterized by peak discharges with a return time of one to five years (1·8–5·15 m3 s−1) and by an hourly bedload rate not exceeding 20 m3 h−1. The second refers to ‘exceptional’ events with a return time of 30–50 years. A flood of this latter type occurred on 14 September 1994, with a peak discharge of 10·4 m3 s−1 and average hourly bedload rate of 324 m3 h−1. Step–pool features were characterized primarily by a steepness parameter c = (H/Ls)/S. The evolution of the steepness parameter was measured in the field from 1992 to 1998. The results indicate that maximum resistance conditions are gradually reached at the end of a series of ordinary flood events. During this period, bed armouring dominate the sediment transport response. However, following an extraordinary flood and unlimited sediment supply conditions, the steepness factor can suddenly decrease as a result of sediment trapped in the pools and a lengthening of step spacing. The analogy of step spacing with antidune wavelength and the main destruction and transformation mechanism of the steps are also discussed. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 2001
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