An examination of data from two continuous stage and discharge streamgages and one continuous stage-only gage on the Middle Mississippi River was made to determine stage-discharge relation changes through time and to investigate cause-and-effect mechanisms through evaluation of hydraulic geometry, channel elevation and water-surface elevation data. Data from discrete, direct measurements at the streamgages at St. Louis, Missouri, and Chester, Illinois, during the period of operation by the U.S. Geological Survey from 1933 to 2008 were examined for changes with time. Daily stage values from the streamgages at St. Louis (1861-2008) and Chester (1891-2008) and the stage-only gage at Cape Girardeau, Missouri (1896-2008), throughout the historic period of record also were examined for changes with time. Stage and discharge from measurements and stage-discharge relations at the streamgages at St. Louis and Chester indicate that stage for a given discharge has changed with time at both locations. An apparent increase in stage for a given discharge at increased flows (greater than flood stage) likely is caused by the raising of levees on the flood plains, and a decrease in stage for a given discharge at low flows (less than one-half flood stage) likely is caused by a combination of dikes in the channel that deepen the channel thalweg at the end of the dikes, and reduced sediment flux into the Middle Mississippi River. Since the 1960s at St. Louis, Missouri, the stage-discharge relations indicated no change or a decrease in stage for a given discharge for all discharges, whereas at Chester, Illinois, the stage-discharge relations indicate increasing stage for a given discharge above bankfull because of sediment infilling of the overflow channel.
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