Channel Gully Profile

prepared by Grant Hamilton

Method Type



The riparian channel and gully profile provides a description of channel shape. This method can also be used to record the shape of the soil surface (e.g., covered by rills, arroyos, and gullies) in uplands.

Channel/Gully Profile is one of the supplemental methods contained within Volume II of the Monitoring Manual for Grassland, Shrubland and Savanna Ecosystems and is intended to support the additional methods described in the manual. Click here for more information about the all of the methods in the Monitoring Manual.


Caution – Do not enter a stream if the current is too strong to be safe!

Two rebar poles are set on either bank of the channel and a level string is strung across the channel. A tape is pulled taught alongside the string. Facing upstream, the recorder begins measuring depth from the string to the channel bed beginning at the left bank rebar stake. Profile measurements are taken at 50cm intervals and the final measurement is taken at the right bank stake. For riparian streams (not gullies), the location of the greenline is recorded.

Once the depths are recorded, a profile diagram can be created using spreadsheet software or graph paper. The string forms the “x” axis (0,0 occurs where the string is tied to the stake on the left bank). The “y” value is the distance between the string and the bottom of the channel. The bank angle and width:depth ratio is also calculated. With the aid of aerial photography, sinuosity as the ratio of distance along the streambed to the straight-line distance between two points is can be calculated as well.


Burton, T.A., S.J. Smith, and E.R. Cowley. 2011. Riparian area management: Multiple indicator monitoring (MIM) of stream channels and streamside vegetation. Technical Reference 1737-23. BLM/OC/ST-10/003+1737+REV. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, National Operations Center, Denver, CO. pp. 13-19, 39-47.

  • Provides a detailed description of the Winward greenline method, which is used in association with the Channel/Gully Profile method when monitoring a vegetated stream.

USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range. (2014). Monitoring Manual for Grassland, Shrubland and Savanna Ecosystems. Volume II: Design, supplementary methods and interpretation. 2nd Ed.

  • A complete description of the process is described here.

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