The purpose of this study is to analyze how estimates of an important geomorphic parameter, effective discharge, are impacted by the choice of bed material load equations and flow duration curves (FDCs). The Yang (1979), Brownlie (1981), and Pagosa equations developed by Rosgen (2006) were compared for predicting bed material load. To calculate the bed material load using the Pagosa equations, the bedload and suspended load are calculated separately and the results are added together. To compare the effectiveness of the equations, measured bed material load data from the USGS Open-File Report 89-67 were used. Following the calculations, the equation results were compared to the measured data. It was determined that the Pagosa equations performed the best overall, followed by Brownlie and then Yang. The superior performance of the Pagosa equations is likely due to the equations being calibrated. USGS regression equations for FDCs were compared to a method developed by Dr. David Rosgen in which a dimensionless FDC (DFDC) is developed. Weminuche Creek in southwestern Colorado was used as the study site. Rosgen's DFDC method requires the selection of a streamgage for a stream that exhibits the same hydro-physiographic characteristics as the site of interest. An FDC is developed for the gaged site and made dimensionless by dividing the discharges by the bankfull discharge of the gaged site. The DFDC is then made dimensional by multiplying by the bankfull discharge of the site of interest and the resulting dimensional FDC is taken as the FDC of the ungaged site. The USGS regression equations underpredicted the discharges while Rosgen's DFDC method overpredicted them. Rosgen's DFDC method produced more accurate results than the USGS regression equations for Weminuche Creek. To calculate the effective discharge, the FDC was used to develop a flow frequency curve which was then multiplied by the sediment rating curve. Effective discharge calculations were performed for Weminuche Creek using several combinations of bed material load prediction equations and FDCs. The USGS regression equations, Rosgen's DFDC method, and streamgage data were all used in conjunction with the Yang and Pagosa equations. The Brownlie equation predicted zero bed material load for Weminuche Creek, and was thus not used to calculate the effective discharge. When the USGS regression equations were used with the Yang and Pagosa equations, the calculated effective discharge was approximately 4.5 cms for both bed material load prediction equations. When Rosgen's DFDC method and streamgage data were used with the Yang and Pagosa equations, the effective discharge was approximately 13.5 cms. From these results, it was determined that the bed material load prediction equations had little impact on the effective discharge for Weminuche Creek while the FDCs did influence the results.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





bed material load, sediment transport, sediment rating curve, Yang, Brownlie, Rosgen, flow duration curve, effective discharge