University Of Tasmania
149805 - Evaluation of bankfull stage from plotted channel geometries.pdf (8.6 MB)

Evaluation of bankfull stage from plotted channel geometries

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 07:15 authored by Keast, D, Joanna EllisonJoanna Ellison

Study region

North-eastern Tasmania, Australia.

Study focus

Two quantitative methods for determining the bankfull stage of alluvial rivers from plotted channel cross-sections were assessed. Bankfull stage estimates determined using the minimum width-to-depth ratio and the first maximum of the bench-index were compared, and then evaluated against qualitative estimates of bankfull stage, using data from 89 cross-sectional surveys along nine alluvial river reaches in north-eastern Tasmania.

New hydrological insights for the region

The minimum width-to-depth ratio was found to provide lower estimates of bankfull stage than the bench-index, with an overall mean ratio between the two methods of 0.84. Qualitative estimates of bankfull stage generally fell between those provided by the two models, with the minimum width-to-depth ratio performing better when assessed against qualitative estimates. These results show that while neither method provides a suitable stand-alone means for estimating bankfull stage, in combination they provide an effective means to approximate the range of bankfull stage. The high variability in bankfull stage found along a reach in this study indicates that where possible bankfull stage is best determined at the reach rather than single cross-sectional scale. Bankfull stage should be presented as a range of values with associated confidence intervals rather than as a finite result, with definition of bankfull stage estimates and sample number also reported.


Publication title

Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies



Article number









School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Elsevier BV

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2022 Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license (

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of freshwater ecosystems

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