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Geography river study coursework - Why do channel characteristics vary downstream at a number of sites along the Mulunguzi river?

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Introduction

The question I have been asked to answer is: "Why do channel characteristics vary downstream at a number of sites along the Mulunguzi river?" The aim of the investigation is to find out how and why the river Mulunguzi's characteristics change from its source to its middle course. Some of these characteristics include: the width and depth of the river, velocity, bedload size and shape etc. I decided to come up with 3 hypotheses of which will help me to answer the question. They are: 1. "The width of the river channel will increase with distance downstream." I would expect this to be true because as we move downstream, there is a greater volume of water at a faster velocity. This causes more hydraulic power erosion in the river channel downstream, which makes the channel wider. More lateral erosion also occurs downstream, causing the river to erode sideways, increasing in width. 2. "The bedload shape( smoothness and roundness) should increase with distance downstream" This would be because as the velocity of the river increases with distance downstream, there will be more attrition as the rocks collide, causing the rocks to become rounder. 3. "The cross-sectional area of the river channel increases with distance downstream." I expect to find this because I expect the width and depth of the river to increase downstream and these results will influence the cross-sectional area. ...read more.

Middle

according to the powers roundness chart. The results were then recorded. Determining the sphericity of rocks relied on our own judgement being consistent throughout. There is no other way to assess shape and so it was hard to distinguish between sub-angular and sub-rounded rocks which could give incorrect patterns in my results. Cross-sectional area (same as width and depth) To calculate the cross sectional area, the average depth (see above) was multiplied by the width of the river (see above). SITE WIDTH AVERAGE DEPTH CROSS SECTION AREA (m�) BEDLOAD ANGULARITY SCORE AVERAGE 1 5.8 53.8 3.12 1 2 5.9 67 3.95 1 3 5.9 44.2 2.61 2 4 7.2 1.7 0.12 N/A 5 6.4 47.2 3.02 3 6 6.6 55.8 3.68 4 7 6 25.5 1.53 5 8 11.8 14.8 1.75 6 Metres Mean Depth (Cms) Width x Mean Depth According to powers roundness chart Site Depth sample (cm) Average 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 1 54 45 63 48 59 53.8 2 82 50 87 75 41 67 3 49 52 46 45 29 44.2 4 1 1 2 4 4 2 2 0.06 5 2 23 50 67 96 45 47.17 6 41 48 63 73 70 40 55.83 7 22 36 37 26 17 15 25.5 8 17 15 10 9 20 24 19 15 17 14 3 13.58 Site Angularity score of bedload sample Average ...read more.

Conclusion

Evaluation I think we could improve the investigation by: * Collecting our results at different times of the year. This investigation was carried out in summer just before the heavy rains were there would have been a greater volume of water flowing in the river and so the results would vary in different seasons. * Being provided with more equipment. We were working in groups of about 4 and there wasn't always enough equipment to go around for each group to use. For example at one point our group had to measure the width of a certain site using only a meter ruler which might not have given us accurate results. * Choosing different sites that are further apart as there was not a great deal of variation in the results between the sites. The changes in the width for example, between the sites could be more significant if the sites were further apart. I could improve my presentation techniques by: * Creating two or more separate graphs to show the cross-sections of the river. It would be easier to read the graphs this way and clearly distinguish between each cross-section. * Including more varied and complicated graphs. * Including a better map of the zomba plateau showing the locations of the different sites we visited. Unfortunately the only map I could find showed the plateau completely covered by clouds. ?? ?? ?? ?? 13 ...read more.

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