Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): David Leigh
    Date: 2010
    Source: Southeastern Geographer 50(4):397-421
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    PDF: View PDF  (925.36 KB)


    Small streams are understudied in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, yet they constitute a huge portion of the drainage network and are relevant with respect to human impact on the landscape and stream restoration efforts. Morphologies of 44 streams (0.01 to 20 km2 watersheds) from western North Carolina are characterized and couched in the context of historical channel evolution and human impacts. Topographic cross-sections and longitudinal gradients, channel and floodplain widths, and bed particle sizes are the basic data. Regression equations describe channel form. New optically stimulated luminescence, radiocarbon, and cesium-137 dates resolve channel evolution. Results indicate that channels behave in a predictable linear fashion of changing in response to increasing watershed size. However, forested reaches have much wider channels than pastured/grassland reaches, indicating more than 50 percent loss of instream habitat related to conversion of riparian forest to pasture/grassland in some cases. Floodplain widths conservatively indicate long-term (century-scale) lateral erosion rates of about 0.5 to 5.0 cm/yr. Colluvial inputs are probable drivers of channel form and particle size on the smallest headwater streams. The modern floodplain appears to have established itself in the early 1900s and it is still evolving.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Leigh, David S. 2010. Morphology and channel evolution of small streams in the southern Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina. Southeastern Geographer 50(4):397-421.

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page