Determining Bankfull Stage

Small channel in Yellowwood State Forest near Waycross, Ind. From upstream, one can see that the right bank reaches to a higher elevation than the left bank. Bankfull stage is found where the top of the left bank meets the floodplain. (Click image to enlarge)

Proper identification of bankfull stage is fundamental to most cases of channel classification, stream naturalization, and mapping efforts designed to avoid areas with significant potential for fluvial erosion hazards.  In 2011, a multi-agency research team was established to begin building the fundamental elements for a fluvial erosion hazard (FEH) mitigation program in Indiana.  The team visited dozens of diverse field sites and documented the environmental characterstics that allow for the identification of bankfull stage in Indiana streams.  Through such efforts, examples of bankfull stage determinations and field techniques were developed to help guide and document field indentification of bankfull stage.

In this section, the reader will find several resources to help them make bankfull stage determinations in the field. These resources will include background terminology, lessons learned by the Indiana FEH study team, and bankfull determination methods presented by a number of individuals and agencies working in the realm of FEH.

Bankfull Terminology           Where to Search for Bankfull Stage

Field Indicators of Bankfull Stage           Gallery of Field Indicators            Using Width/Depth Ratios as a Guide

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