Stream Morphology


Stream morphology is the study which examines the shape and movement of streams as regulated by rain or any other weather condition such as sediment transport and floods. It is important to note that the shape of a stream at any point in the network comes from a balance between the erosive force of the water that moves inside and the materials through or over which the water is moving. Stream morphology entails a watershed, river deposition, erosive activities, and floodplains. It does entail not only the elements within the stream but also those alongside the stream.

The main purpose of this lab experiment is to understand the way various factors affect the flow of a stream.

For the thicker book in activity 1, my hypothesis was; the stream is long as a result of the stream table’s steep incline. For the thinner book in activity 1, my hypothesis is; the stream is much short making the water to quickly pool up as a result of the small incline.

For the second activity, a thinner book was used. The stream was pre-dug to create a bigger Sinuosity than before. I anticipated that the stream would follow that path and all the calculations would increase considering the fact that the stream’s path had already been dug, so it did have to generate its own. This would have provided it with more distance and depth.

Materials and Methods

Water, ruler, camera, stopwatch, cookie sheet, plastic cup, cornmeal, and push pin.

In Activity 1, a single even layer of cornmeal was put in the cookie sheet, saturated in water and set to dry. The cookie sheet was filled half-way with water. For the thick and thin books, the cup was halfway filled with water and halfway on the books as well.

In Activity 2, on the thinner book, the cookie sheet was entirely filled with water, and a portion of the cookie sheet was left empty to be filled by the stream. The cup was placed hallway on the cookie sheet and halfway on the books.


Table 1 Data

  Trial Sinuosity Velocity (cm/s) Relief (cm) Gradient (cm)


Thicker Book

1 0.84 0.00058066667m/s 3.83cm 4.58cm


Thinner Book

1 1.26cm None 2.55cm 2.033


Table 2 Data

Trial Sinuosity Velocity (cm/s) Relief (cm) Gradient (cm)
1 1.084cm 0.00255 m/s 2.55cm 2.35cm



In Activity 1, I hypothesized that a longer stream would be created on the thicker book. But a small stream was created which started pooling everywhere. In the thinner book, I anticipated that a short stream would be generated and make the stream overflow and begin pooling up on the cornmeal. But the result of the experiment disapproved my thesis. The stream was shorter in the thicker book and longer in the thinner book.

In Activity 2, I anticipated that an increase in the calculations because the stream paths were created. The result confirmed my thesis.

When doing the lab experiment, there are several challenges I experienced. But understanding the various calculations struck me. I found it difficult to understand the concept of every calculation to get the required results. The Relief calculation, to be specific, is so difficult for me to understand but I will lastly get an idea.

To explore the effect of humans on the stream ecosystem, scientists can plants vegetation along the stream. This would help reduce erosion and enhance environmental or habitat conservation.




Gücker, B., & Boëchat, I. G. (2004). Stream morphology controls ammonium retention in tropical headwaters. Ecology, 85(10), 2818-2827.

Parker, G., Toro-Escobar, C. M., Ramey, M., & Beck, S. (2003). Effect of floodwater extraction on mountain stream morphology. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 129(11), 885-895.

Wohl, E., & Merritt, D. (2005). Prediction of mountain stream morphology. Water Resources Research, 41(8).