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Sediment delivery after a wildfire

Steven L. Reneau, Danny Katzman, Gregory A. Kuyumjian, Alexis Lavine and Daniel V. Malmon
Sediment delivery after a wildfire
Geology (Boulder) (February 2007) 35 (2): 151-154


We use a record of sedimentation in a small reservoir within the Cerro Grande burn area, New Mexico, to document postfire delivery of ash, other fine-grained sediment carried in suspension within floods, and coarse-grained sediment transported as bedload over a five-year period. Ash content of sediment layers is estimated using fallout (super 137) Cs as a tracer, and ash concentrations are shown to rapidly decrease through a series of moderate-intensity convective storms in the first rainy season after the fire. Over 90% of the ash was delivered to the reservoir in the first year, and ash concentrations in suspended sediment were negligible after the second year. Delivery of the remainder of the fine sediment also declined rapidly after the first year despite the occurrence of higher-intensity storms in the second year. Fine sediment loads after five years remained significantly above prefire averages. Deposition of coarse-grained sediment was irregular in time and was associated with transport by snowmelt runoff of sediment stored along the upstream channel during short-duration summer floods. Coarse sediment delivery in the first four years was strongly correlated with snowmelt volume, suggesting a transport-limited system with abundant available sediment. Transport rates of coarse sediment declined in the fifth year, consistent with a transition to a more stable channel as the accessible sediment supply was depleted and the channel bed coarsened. Maximum impacts from ash and other fine-grained sediment therefore occurred soon after the fire, whereas the downstream impacts from coarse-grained sediment were attenuated by the more gradual process of bedload sediment transport.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 35
Serial Issue: 2
Title: Sediment delivery after a wildfire
Affiliation: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Environmental Geology and Spatial Analysis Group, Los Alamos, NM, United States
Pages: 151-154
Published: 200702
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 24
Accession Number: 2007-023051
Categories: Environmental geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: With GSA Data Repository Item 2007037
Illustration Description: illus.
N35°45'00" - N35°57'00", W106°25'60" - W106°15'00"
N35°30'00" - N36°00'00", W106°40'00" - W106°15'00"
Secondary Affiliation: U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, USA, United StatesGeomatrix Consultants, USA, United StatesU. S. Geological Survey, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 200713
Program Name: USGSOPNon-USGS publications with USGS authors
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