Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Geography

Supervisor

Peter Ashmore

Abstract

The delineation of a meander belt has been recognized in Ontario through land use planning policies as a primary tool for determining the extent a river or stream requires for natural meandering tendencies; thus, providing input to channel restoration projects, development constraints or limits, and regulated areas for species-at-risk. Current delineation procedures utilize site-specific historical migration assessments, or published empirical equations to predict meander belt width. In the case of altered, low order watercourses in southern Ontario, the meander belt width dimension is usually assessed by the application of empirical relations, as the available historic record often lacks the information necessary to conduct meander morphology and migration assessments. There is limited research concerned with the variables controlling meander belt development, and on the precision and reliability of the measurement of belt width. Drawing on a sample population of river reaches in the Credit River watershed, this research project evaluates the current standards of practice for meander belt delineation in southern Ontario, focusing on empirical equations to determine whether the width of the meander belt can be reliably predicted from hydro-geomorphic variables. Results suggest meander belt width is scaled to drainage area, discharge, and bankfull channel width. These results differ from equations commonly used in Ontario assessments suggesting further need for model testing and assessment of the reliability of meander belt width as a planning tool.


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