Karen Williams

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Montana State University
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My research concerns how fluvial systems evolove in headwaters systems, from hillslopes to unchanneled valleys to channels. In headwater catchments, the hillslope and fluvial process domains create a landscape that is a mosaic of hillslope-dominated and fluvial-dominated patches. My work focuses on detecting the transitions between the hillslope and fluvial process domains. Knowing the spatial extent of the fluvial domain is important for sediment routing and hydrologic runoff routing, as well as practical applications of watershed management. One primary difference between the hillslope and fluvial process domains is the scale dependence of hillslopes and the scale invariance of channels. My work uses scale-dependent to scale-invariant transitions in landscape scaling relations to detect process domain transitions. Within headwater channels, there is an additional transition from colluvial to alluvial channels. Colluvial (hillslope-dominated) and alluvial (self-formed) channels are distinguished by the relative lack of organization and pattern in the former and spatial organization and repeating patterns in the latter. The final portion of my work uses wavelet analyses of channel morphology and the proxy for geomorphic work (unit stream power) to detect colluvial/alluvial transitions in headwater channels through the spectral signature of repeating patterns.


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Montana State University
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The University of Montana
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