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The fate of sediment, wood, and organic carbon eroded during an extreme flood, Colorado Front Range, USA

S. L. Rathburn, G. L. Bennett, E. E. Wohl, C. Briles, B. McElroy and N. Sutfin
The fate of sediment, wood, and organic carbon eroded during an extreme flood, Colorado Front Range, USA
Geology (Boulder) (March 2017) 45 (6): 499-502

Abstract

Identifying and quantifying the dominant processes of erosion and tracking the fate of sediment, wood, and carbon eroded during floods is important for understanding channel response to floods, downstream sediment and carbon loading, and the influence of extreme events on landscapes and the terrestrial carbon cycle. We quantify sediment, wood, and organic carbon (OC) from source to local sink following an extreme flood in the tectonically quiescent, semi-arid Colorado (USA) Front Range. Erosion of >500,000 m (super 3) or as much as approximately 115 yr of weathering products occurred through landsliding and channel erosion during September 2013 flooding. More than half of the eroded sediment was deposited at the inlet and delta of a water supply reservoir, resulting in the equivalent of 100 yr of reservoir sedimentation and 2% loss in water storage capacity. The flood discharged 28 Mg C/km (super 2) , producing an event OC flux equivalent to humid, tectonically active areas. Post-flood remobilization resulted in a further approximately 100 yr of reservoir sedimentation plus export of an additional 1.3 Mg C/km (super 2) of wood, demonstrating the ongoing impact of the flood on reservoir capacity and carbon cycling. Pronounced channel widening during the flood created accommodation space for 40% of flood sediment and storage of wood and eroded carbon. We conclude that confined channels, normally dismissed as transport reaches, can store and export substantial amounts of flood constituents.


ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Coden: GLGYBA
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 45
Serial Issue: 6
Title: The fate of sediment, wood, and organic carbon eroded during an extreme flood, Colorado Front Range, USA
Affiliation: Colorado State University, Department of Geosciences, Fort Collins, CO, United States
Pages: 499-502
Published: 20170327
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 19
Accession Number: 2017-035049
Categories: GeomorphologyApplied geophysics
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2017158
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch map
N37°00'00" - N41°00'00", W109°00'00" - W102°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Colorado at Denver, USA, United StatesUniversity of Wyoming, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, 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: 201720
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