Martin Lafrenz

Date of Award

Spring 5-27-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 58 pages)


Ephemeral streams -- Oregon -- Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness -- Case studies, Ephemeral streams -- Greece -- Kalymnos -- Case studies, Fluvial geomorphology, Slopes (Soil mechanics)




In spite of decades of related research, stream channel initiation is still not well understood. Current theories of channel initiation are grounded in research conducted by Montgomery and Dietrich, largely in the transport limited, temperate, humid climate of the Pacific Northwest, USA. This field data driven work concluded that the drainage area required for channel initiation is directly correlated to the slope of the contributing area. However, there are a host of related variables that have yet to be examined in the field. This study revisits the slope-area relationship focusing on ephemeral overland flow in headwaters of both the Pacific Northwest and an environmentally contrasting island in Greece. By seeking greater understanding of the variables, such as soil properties, vegetation type, and lithology that may influence channel initiation, the study sought to find an equation for remote determination of where ephemeral flow concentrates. However, results indicated that a universal equation does not exist. Rather, the location of ephemeral flow concentration is linked to landscape type, transport versus weathering limited slopes, and corresponding overland flow type. As a result, there is potential for regional models to be developed. Two such models were found as part of this study. One indicates that in a weathering limited environment, Hortonian overland flow is the dominant ephemeral flow type and the driving force behind where it concentrates on the landscape. The other demonstrates that in a transport limited environment, ephemeral flow concentration is due saturated overland flow, with the key to location of concentration being the point of return flow.

Persistent Identifier