Skip links and keyboard navigation

Australian River Assessment System (AusRivAS) Geoassessment: Physical & Chemical

Search fields


Australian Government with State and Territory Governments through National Rivers Health Program

Latest documentation


Designed for use in




Assessment purpose

Management effectiveness, Processes and components

Assessment criteria

Physical and chemical

Method type

Field, desktop


Short-medium term – Field assessment is designed to be rapid.


Landscape/Catchment, Region, Site/habitat

Wetland system


Description and method logic

Method purpose

The purpose of the AusRivAS Geoassessment: Physical & Chemical methodology (physical assessment) is to assess and predict river habitat condition from a national to local level


This protocol is a standardised rapid method for the collection of geomorphological, physical habitat, riparian and basic water quality data. It can be used to assess the physical condition of rivers and streams and to predict the local scale habitat features that should be present at a site.

Method logic

The AusRivAS physical assessment method incorporates aspects of several existing physical assessment methods into a method that can be implemented to construct AusRivAS style predictive models. Predictive models are typically derived from the AusRivAS macroinvertebrate models. Physical, chemical and habitat information collected from reference sites is used to construct the predictive models, which are then used to assess the condition of test sites. Large scale catchment characteristics are used to predict local scale features.

The physical assessment protocol doesn’t provide prescribed predictive measures, but contains the provisions and datasheets for various measures of physical habitat.

Criteria groupings of the method

AusRivAS physical criteria are based on Habitat Predictive Modelling with sampling design, data collection and analytical components from other stream assessment methods i.e. AusRivAS freshwater biological monitoring. Large scale catchment characteristics are used to predict local scale features.  The physical chemical criteria are grouped under control and response categories

Data required

Catchment and local scale physical, chemical and habitat variables measured using standardised methods for reference and test sites.

Resources required

Expertise required

This methodology requires trained operators in field survey, laboratory techniques, assessment and database management.

Materials required

Field sheets, dedicated database, water quality sampling and habitat assessment equipment, access to a laboratory for water quality analysis, the AusRivAS model.

Method outputs


  • An observed:expected ratio which compares the physical and chemical features expected to occur at the test site against those actually observed.


  • To inform environmental policy at a national scale
  • To measure the success of river rehabilitation at a local scale
  • Community monitoring.

Criteria by category

    Physical and chemical

    • Control variables
      • Catchment characteristics
      • Hydrology
      • Land use
      • Planform channel features
      • Position of site in catchment
      • Water chemistry
    • Response variables
      • Bank characteristics
      • Cross sectional dimension
      • Floodplain characteristics
      • Instream vegetation and organic matter
      • Physical and habitat assessment
      • Physical morphology and bedform
      • Riparian vegetation
      • Site observations
      • Substrate
      • Planform channel features


Recommended user

The results would be useful to catchment managers, natural resource managers and government agencies.


  • Has a predictive capability
  • Can be modified to incorporate components from other stream assessment methods
  • Complementary to AusRivAS macroinvertebrate assessment
  • Reference sites are only visited once.


  • No prescribed predictive model technique, instead utilises the macroinvertebrate predictive models
  • Requires extensive reference site surveys (up to 250 reference sites in Qld).

Case studies



  1. eWater crc, (2002). Physical & Chemical Geoassessment: Manuals & Datasheets. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 August 2018].
  2. Parsons, M, Thoms, M & Norris, R (2002), Australian River Assessment System: AusRivAS Physical Assessment Protocol, Monitoring River Heath Initiative Technical Report no 22.. [online], Commonwealth of Australia and University of Canberra, Canberra. Available at:

Last updated: 7 February 2019

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2019) Australian River Assessment System (AusRivAS) Geoassessment: Physical & Chemical, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2023. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science