Reading the Landscape in Field-Based Fluvial Geomorphology

Gary Brierley*, Kirstie Fryirs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Fieldwork is an integral component of environmental science pedagogy. In fluvial geomorphology, it entails efforts to relate local landforms to their landscape context, generating place-based understandings that can be related to theoretical principles about diversity of forms, formative processes, patterns/configurations of features, and evolutionary adjustments. Field-based experiences and teaching often prompt intellectual developments that cannot be replicated in the classroom or in the virtual world. This chapter documents three exercises that are used to teach river and landscape interpretation in undergraduate/postgraduate classes and professional short courses. Collectively, these efforts support the development of interpretative skill sets that are required to "read the landscape." The exercises entail catchment-scale analysis of river character and behavior (river reach analysis), interpretation of river patterns along longitudinal profiles, and analysis of river evolution. A simple yet memorable acronym is proposed as a prompt to support questions to be asked in applied-field investigations of river systems: CRAPPER (Catchment-scale analysis, Reach-scale investigations, Adjustment, Process, Pattern, Evolution, and Recovery/Rehabilitation prospects).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-257
Number of pages27
JournalDevelopments in Earth Surface Processes
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Landscape patterns
  • Longitudinal profile
  • River evolution
  • River forms
  • River processes
  • River Styles


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