Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Geosciences


This thesis is a study of ephemeral drainage systems on the extensive, low-relief Northern Plains in the Alice Springs region of central Australia. Comparison of the Sandover, Bundey and Woodforde Rivers (catchment areas of approximately 10 600, 11 000 and 550 km', respectively) reveals variations in channel morphology, estimated flow conditions and sedimentary characteristics. In the middle reaches of the Sandover catchment, bedloads consist of medium to coarse sands and channels are mainly singlethread. By contrast, in the Bundey and Woodforde catchments, bedloads consist of coarse sands and granules and many reaches are anabranched, with channels separated by narrow, linear, vegetated ridges or broad islands. Anabranching is related to tributary drainage, for ridges and islands form in association with tributary junctions as a result of various processes, including accretion in the lee of in-channel vegetation, by floodplain scour and by the formation of defeiTed-junction tributaries.