Stream Type C — Riffles, Pools, and Point Bars

Look at the photo below and you can’t help but think: A River Runs Through It. You are a classic. Your shallow, quick “riffles” run down into pools on the outside of each bend. Then you glide up into the next riffle and cross-over to run into another pool — usually on the opposite side of the channel — as you meander gently back and forth across your accessible, large, flat floodplain.

Across from the pool on each bend sits a C-type’s most distinguishing characteristic: the point-bar. See the exposed cobbles and gravel? During peak runoff flows, the bars are submerged and act as conveyor belts moving your significant sediment load downstream. Beneath your calm movie-star-looks lies a workhorse.

In order to keep your integrity under such a combination of roles, your life must maintain this very specific shape — but it’s one that places a lot of stress on your banks. Your buddies, the deep-rooted woody vegetation, are instrumental in helping you hold your edges together. It’s important they not get destroyed by livestock or even zealous landscapers. If your banks erode, you quickly become over-wide and shallow which decreases your power — you start dropping your load in the middle of your channel. So guard your boundaries from animals and developers. Keep your life shaped the way you want it to be, and you’ll continue getting tons accomplished WHILE looking serene.

Blue River, Colorado, istock photo

Click HERE to return to the list with links to all 8 types

For more “C-type” photos and stories on “Like a River,” visit these links:


“For now”

“Avulsed” and “Avulsing Part 2

“Mixing domestic, wild, and barnyard metaphors (because organization’ll do that to even a river)”

[This personality typing system is based on the Rosgen Stream Classification System developed by Dave Rosgen of Wildland Hydrology and presented in his book Applied River Morphology and his Catena journal article — not that he has endorsed using it for personality typing!]

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