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Solid Earth An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 7, issue 2
Solid Earth, 7, 457–468, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-7-457-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Solid Earth, 7, 457–468, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-7-457-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 29 Mar 2016

Research article | 29 Mar 2016

Delineating small karst watersheds based on digital elevation model and eco-hydrogeological principles

Guang Jie Luo1,2,3, Shi Jie Wang1, Xiao Yong Bai1, Xiu Ming Liu1, and An Yun Cheng4 Guang Jie Luo et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Environmental Geochemistry, Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guiyang 550081, China
  • 2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • 3Institute of Agricultural Ecology and Rural development, Guizhou Normal College, Guiyang 550018, China
  • 4Puding Karst Ecosystem Observation and Research Station, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Anshun 561000, China

Abstract. Dominated by specific eco-hydrogeological backgrounds, a small watershed delineated by using the traditional method is always inauthentic in karst regions because it cannot accurately reflect the eco-hydrological process of the dual structure of the surface and subsurface. This study proposes a new method for the delineation of small watersheds based on digital elevation models (DEMs) and eco-hydrogeological principles in karst regions. This method is applied to one section of the tributary area (Sancha River) of the Yangtze River in China. By comparing the quantity, shape, superimposition, and characteristics of the internal hydrological process of a small watershed extracted by using the digital elevation model with that extracted by using the proposed method of this study, we conclude that the small karst watersheds extracted by the new method accurately reflect the hydrological process of the river basin. Furthermore, we propose that the minimum unit of the river basin in karst regions should be the watershed, whose exit is the corrosion and corrasion baselevel and a further division of watershed may cause a significant inconsistency with the true eco-hydrological process.

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For accurately reflecting the eco-hydrological process of the dual structure of the surface and subsurface, we propose a new method for the extraction of small watersheds in karst regions. In this study, we think that the minimum karst watershed has an exit at the corrosion–erosion datum, and the further karst sub-watershed division may cause an eco-hydrological fault. The watersheds delineated by our method accurately reflect the hydrological process in the Sancha River.
For accurately reflecting the eco-hydrological process of the dual structure of the surface and...
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