The Burdekin Gorge of northeastern Australia lies within the seasonal tropics and is characterized by high discharge variability. Slackwater sediments and paleostage indicators in the gorge record seven large floods that have occurred during the past 1,200 yrs. These floods range in magnitude from 11,000 to 30,000 m3s-1 and are characterized by large downstream variations in hydraulics. The floods generate high values of velocity, boundary shear stress, and stream power per unit area. Downstream fluctuations in these variables help to explain the location of boulder bars, high flood levees, small-scale erosional features in the bedrock, and the formation of inner channels. Boulder bars and flood levees form where shear stress and stream power decrease due to channel widening. Small-scale erosional features, such as potholes and troughs, are best developed at sites of channel constriction and associated increases in shear stress and stream power. The development of the inner channel appears to be controlled by complex interactions between bedrock lithology and structure, and by flow hydraulics. All of the channel features are related to the hydraulics of large floods, which therefore are the dominant controls on many aspects of channel morphology in this bedrock gorge.
- Geological Society of America