Evolution of channel morphology and hydrologic response in an urbanizing drainage basin

Peter A. Nelson, James A. Smith, Andrew J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The Dead Run catchment in Baltimore County, Maryland, has undergone intense urbanization since the late 1950s. Reconstruction of the channel planform from topographic maps dating back to the 1890s and aerial photographs dating back to the 1930s indicates that the channel has remained stable in planform since at least the 1930s. The relative stability of Dead Run contrasts with the alterations in channel morphology reported for other urbanizing streams in the Piedmont physiographic province of the eastern United States. Trend analyses of discharge records in Dead Run show that urban development and stormwater control measures have had significant impacts on the hydrologic response of the catchment. The flood hydraulics of the Dead Run catchment are examined for the event that occurred on 22 June 1972 in association with Hurricane Agnes. A two-dimensional hydraulic model, TELEMAC-2D, was used with a finite-element mesh constructed from a combination of high-resolution LiDAR topographic data and detailed field survey data to analyse the distribution of boundary shear stress and unit stream power along the channel and floodplain during flooding from Hurricane Agnes. The spatial and temporal distributions of these parameters, relative to channel gradient and channel/valley bottom geometry, provide valuable insights on the stability of the Dean Run channel. The stability of Dead Run's channel planform, in spite of extreme flooding and decades of urban development, is most likely linked to geological controls of channel and floodplain morphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1063-1079
Number of pages17
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • Flood hydraulics
  • Hydraulic modelling
  • Planform
  • Urban hydrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolution of channel morphology and hydrologic response in an urbanizing drainage basin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this