Divider analysis of drainage divides delineated at the field scale

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Mercurio, Matthew Forrest
Rice-Snow, Robin S.
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Thesis (M.S.)
Department of Geology
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Previous works have applied the Divider Method to the shapes of drainage divides as measured from maps. This study focuses on the shapes of several drainage divides measured in the field at very fine scale. These divides, chosen for their sharp crests, include portions of the Continental Divide in Colorado and badlands-type divides in Arizona, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Texas. The badlands type divides were delineated using a laser theodolite to collect data at decimeter point spacing, and the Continental Divide segments were delineated using pace and bearing at a constant point spacing of 30 meters. A GIS was used to store and visualize the divide data, and an automated divider analysis was performed for each of the 16 drainage divides.The Richardson plots produced for each of the drainage divide datasets were visually inspected for portions of linearity. Fractal dimensions (D) were calculated using linear regression techniques for each of the linear segments identified in the Richardson plots. Six of the plots exhibited two distinct segments of linearity, nine plots exhibited one segment, and one plot exhibited no segments of linearity. Residual analyses of the trend lines show that about half of the Richardson plot segments used to calculate D exhibit slight curvature. While these segments are not strictly linear, linear models and associated D values may still serve well as approximations to describe degree of divide wandering.Most (20 out of 21) of the dimensions derived from the Richardson plots for the drainage divides fall within the range from 1.01-1.07. The D values calculated for the Continental Divide range from 1.02-1.07. The dimensions calculated for the badlandtype divides were distributed evenly across the range of 1.01-1.06, with a single exceptional D value at 1.12. Only four of the divide D values fall within a range of 1.06–1.12, the range for D established for drainage divides in published map-based studies, despite the apparent dominance of erosion processes on the measured divides.