Date Thesis Awarded

Spring 2012

Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Gregory S. Hancock

Committee Members

James M. Kaste

Mark K. Hinders


The erosion of bedrock-floored channels is a critical process governing the rate of landscape evolution in many settings. Recent numerical modeling of rock-floored channel cross-sections suggests that equilibrium channel geometry and slope are sensitive to variations in rock erodibility, especially along the channel perimeter. However, few field studies have focused on systematic measurement of rock erodibility across bedrock-floored channels. We hypothesize that variations in weathering intensity and duration across some channels results in variable erodibility. To determine if erodibility varies in some channels, we used a Type N SilverSchmidt hammer to measure in situ compressive strength in channels floored by sandstone (3 sites, Utah), granite (1 site, Virginia) and limestone (2 sites, Virginia). Rock strength, which decreases with increased weathering, is assumed to be an adequate proxy for erodibility (Sklar et al., 2001). In four of six channels, average compressive strength decreased 24 – 52% between the waterline and the highest exposed bedrock (1.6 – 3.2 m above the thalweg). In one limestone channel, average compressive strength increased 70% between the waterline and 2.6 m above the thalweg. In a rapidly eroding sandstone channel, erodibility remained constant at all elevations. We used an electron microprobe to conduct chemical weathering and porosity analyses on three of five channels. Observed variation in bedrock erodibility is predominantly caused by weathering, but the extent and dominant form are highly variable, depending on climate conditions and rock type.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Thesis is part of Honors ETD pilot project, 2008-2013. Migrated from Dspace in 2016.

On-Campus Access Only