Fluvial diversity in relation to valley setting in the source region of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers

Guo an Yu, Le Liu, Zhiwei Li, Yanfu Li, Heqing Huang*, Gary Brierley, Brendon Blue, Zhaoyin Wang, Baozhu Pan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The spatial distribution of valley setting (laterally-unconfined, partly-confined, or confined) and fluvial morphology in the source region of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers is contrasted and analyzed. The source region of the Yangtze River is divided into 3 broad sections (I, II and III) based on valley setting and channel gradient, with the upstream and downstream sections being characterized by confined (some reaches partly-confined) valleys, while the middle section is characterized with wide and shallow, laterally-unconfined valleys. Gorges are prominent in sections I and III, while braided channel patterns dominate section II. By contrast, the source region of the Yellow River is divided into 5 broad sections (sections I-V) based on valley characteristics and channel gradient. Sections I, II and IV are alluvial reaches with mainly laterally-unconfined (some short reaches partly-confined) valleys. Sections III and V are mainly confined or partly-confined. Greater morphological diversity is evident in the source region of the Yellow River relative to the upper Yangtze River. This includes braided, anabranching, anastomosing, meandering and straight alluvial patterns, with gorges in confined reaches. The macro-relief (elevation, gradient, aspect, valley alignment and confinement) of the region, linked directly to tectonic movement of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, tied to climatic, hydrologic and biotic considerations, are primary controls upon the patterns of river diversity in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817-832
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geographical Sciences
Volume23
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • fluvial morphology
  • river patterns
  • source region of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers
  • spatial distribution
  • valley setting

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