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Colorado River Campsite Monitoring, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 1998–2012

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River rafting trips and hikers use sandbars along the Colorado River in Marble and Grand Canyons as campsites. The U.S. Geological Survey evaluated the effects of Glen Canyon Dam operations on campsite areas on sandbars along the Colorado River in

River rafting trips and hikers use sandbars along the Colorado River in Marble and Grand Canyons as campsites. The U.S. Geological Survey evaluated the effects of Glen Canyon Dam operations on campsite areas on sandbars along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. Campsite area was measured annually from 1998 to 2012 at 37 study sites between Lees Ferry and Diamond Creek, Arizona. The primary purpose of this report is to present the methods and results of the project.

Campsite area surveys were conducted using total station survey methods to outline the perimeter of camping area at each study site. Campsite area is defined as any region of smooth substrate (most commonly sand) with no more than an 8 degree slope and little or no vegetation. We used this definition, but relaxed the slope criteria to include steeper areas near boat mooring locations where campers typically establish their kitchens.

The results show that campsite area decreased over the course of the study period, but at a rate that varied by elevation zone and by survey period. Time-series plots show that from 1998 to 2012, high stage-elevation (greater than the 25,000 ft3/s stage-elevation) campsite area decreased significantly, although there was no significant trend in low stage-elevation (15,000–20,000 ft3/s) campsite area. High stage-elevation campsite area increased after the 2004 and 2008 high flows, but decreased in the intervals between high flows. Although no overall trend was detected for low stage-elevation campsite areas, they did increase after high-volume dam releases equal to or greater than about 20,000 ft3/s. We conclude that dam operations have not met the management objectives of the Glen Canyon Adaptive Management program to increase the size of camping beaches in critical and non-critical reaches of the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Mead.

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2014-07

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Geomorphology of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon

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Sediment supplied to the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon has been sorted into distinct deposits of three grain size ranges. The major rapids are formed by boulder deposits from side-canyon tributaries. As a result of a fourfold reduction in

Sediment supplied to the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon has been sorted into distinct deposits of three grain size ranges. The major rapids are formed by boulder deposits from side-canyon tributaries. As a result of a fourfold reduction in peak discharge when Glen Canyon Dam was closed in 1963, new fan debris may increase the gradient through some of the rapids by a factor of 1.8. Cobbles and gravel, transported only during flood stages, are preferentially deposited in the wider sections of the river as bars and riffles and are, for the most part, inactive during post-dam discharges. Fine-grain (largely sandy) terraces occur throughout the canyon, especially along the banks of the large reverse eddies above and below the rapids. The lower terraces are being reworked into beach-like shores by diurnally-varying, post-dam discharges. A slight net lateral erosion of the terraces has resulted. Prior to construction of the dam, sandy bed deposits underwent scour averaging about 1 m during spring floods, balanced by deposition from tributary sources during the summer. Downstream from rapids, decreased turbulence due to lower discharges has resulted in deposition averaging 2.2 m on the bed within the upper portions of the canyon. Differences in rock types along the river determine overall channel morphology. Rocks of low resistance result in a wide valley, a meandering channel, and abundant cobble bars and sand terraces. Narrow channels with rapids and deep pools are most frequent within the sections of the canyon where Precambrian crystalline rocks dominate.

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1981-05

Paul Grams Oral History

Description

Summary: 

Interview conducted by: Dr. Paul Hirt, Arizona southwestern U.S. state. State University and Jennifer Sweeney, Four East Historical Research, LLC. Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program Administrative History Project. Administered by Arizona southwestern U.S. state. State University Supported by a

Summary: 

Interview conducted by: Dr. Paul Hirt, Arizona southwestern U.S. state. State University and Jennifer Sweeney, Four East Historical Research, LLC. Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program Administrative History Project. Administered by Arizona southwestern U.S. state. State University Supported by a grant from the US Bureau of Reclamation.

Biography: 

Paul Grams has worked directly with the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (GCDAMP) since 2008, as a program manager and research hydrologist at the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC). His involvement in Grand Canyon studies goes back to 1991, when he took a Colorado River research trip as part of an undergraduate science course. Grams is an expert on the effects of dams on river geomorphology and sediment transport. He holds a BA in Geology from Middlebury College, an MS in Geology from Utah State University, and a PhD in Geography and Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

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2020-01-24