Sediment Delivery by Ungaged Tributaries of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon

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Title Sediment Delivery by Ungaged Tributaries of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon
Creator Webb, Robert H.; Griffiths, Peter G.
Subject Streamflow; Sediment control; Sediments (Geology)
Spatial Coverage Colorado River (Colo.-Mexico); Grand Canyon (Ariz.); Glen Canyon (Utah and Ariz.); Arizona; New Mexico; Nevada; Utah; Colorado
Description Sediment supply and transport in Grand Canyon is an important management issue because of the presence and operation of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River (U.S. Department of the Interior, 1995). Most of the fine-grained sediment that formerly entered the canyon from upstream is trapped in Lake Powell; this sediment once replenished beaches and provided substrate for the riverine ecosystem in Grand Canyon. With the closure of the dam in 1963, sources of fine-grained sediment have been limited to major tributaries, such as the Paria and Little Colorado Rivers and Kanab and Havasu Creeks, and numerous small tributaries. Small tributaries are also the source of coarse-grained sediment (cobbles and boulders), which forms debris fans and rapids, defines pools and eddies that trap and store fine sediment, and provides substrate for aquatic and terrestrial habitats throughout the river channel. Between Glen Canyon Dam and the Grand Wash Cliffs 768 small tributaries were designated, most of which range from 1 through 5 km2 in area. All of these tributaries produce streamflow, but only the 736 tributaries between Lee's Ferry and the Grand Wash Cliffs produce debris flows. With the exception of Bright Angel Creek and the major tributaries, these small tributaries between Glen Canyon Dam and the Grand Wash Cliffs were ungaged before 1999. A combination of fluvial and hill slope processes occurs in small tributaries in Grand Canyon, making estimates of sediment yield complicated. Sediment yield estimates must consider the contributions of both streamflow, which occurs annually in all tributaries, and debris flow, which occurs rarely. Debris flows are slurries of clay- to boulder sized sediment with sediment concentrations of 70 to 90 percent by volume. In contrast, streamflow typically has a sediment concentration by weight of less than 40 percent. A total of 12,072 km2 in 736 tributaries produces debris flow, and 12,900 km2 produce streamflow. The tributaries were organized into seven sediment yield reaches that correspond to river segments between major tributaries with gaging records or other estimates of sediment input. Development of a sediment budget for the Colorado River through Grand Canyon requires an estimate of the long-term sediment yields for both coarse and fine particles from all 768 tributaries but particularly from tributaries in Reaches A and B, where sand bar resources are most threatened. Because the size of particles transported by the river vary with discharge, data on the particle-size distribution of sediment delivered by both debris flow and streamflow are also needed. Increased knowledge of debris flow and mainstem processes in Grand Canyon will contribute to efforts to operate Glen Canyon Dam in ways that minimize downstream impacts. This Fact Sheet summarizes a report (Webb and others, 2000) that presents the total sediment yield and sand delivery rates for the ungaged tributaries.
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributors Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center
Date 2001
Type Text
Format application/pdf
Digitization Specifications pdf file copied from USGS website ( Uploaded into CONTENTdm version 3.7.
Source Webb, Robert H.; Griffiths, Peter G., Sediment Delivery by Ungaged Tributaries of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon, Tucson, Arizona: U. S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 018-01 , 4 p.
Language eng
Rights Management Public Domain, Courtesy of the USGS
Holding Institution University of Utah
Metadata Cataloger Kristin Willmore
ARK ark:/87278/s6db80rk
Setname wwdl_er
Date Created 2005-08-10
Date Modified 2005-08-10
ID 1145849
Reference URL
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