Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2024

Document Type

Thesis (Undergraduate)



First Advisor

Francis Magilligan

Second Advisor

Justin Mankin

Third Advisor

Jonathan Winter


Researchers have quantified the hydrologic, sedimentologic, and geomorphic effects of dams extensively in the past century. Many of these studies have focused on dams in the United States and Europe, yet the rising dam construction in low latitude areas necessitates further research into the effects of these dams on the rivers they harness. This investigation aims to discover how the hydrologic, sedimentologic, and geomorphic effects of dams differ in low latitudes, specifically in high elevation areas. We use the Coca Codo Sinclair Dam on the Río Coca in Napo, Ecuador, as our study site. We employ a multipronged methodology using techniques such as IHA (Richter et al., 1996), sediment analysis, image classification, and changes in functional surfaces (Graf et al., 2006) to investigate hydrologic alteration, changes in sediment flux, and geomorphic change downstream of the dam. Our results include a reduction in minimum flows and dry season flows, possibly due to the unique design of the dam, a ~90% decrease in sediment flux, and changes to some functional surface areas which is influenced by its status as a wandering river. The results, such as reductions in minimum and dry season flows, indicate that the effects of dams are different in understudied tropical higher elevation areas, than common low latitude study sites (Lower Mekong Basin and Brazilian Amazon). Further studies should use this multipronged analysis on other low latitude rivers to quantify the effects of large hydropower development on rivers and communities that use them.

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Geography Commons