Using LiDAR to Estimate Surface Erosion Volumes within the Post-storm 2012 Bagley Fire

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Ryan P Mikulovsky, US Forest Service, Willows, CA, United States, Juan A De La Fuente, US Forest Service, Yreka, CA, United States and Zackary J Mondry, US Forest Service, Redding, CA, United States
The total post-storm 2012 Bagley fire sediment budget of the Squaw Creek watershed in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest was estimated using many methods. A portion of the budget was quantitatively estimated using LiDAR. Simple workflows were designed to estimate the eroded volume's of debris slides, fill failures, gullies, altered channels and streams. LiDAR was also used to estimate depositional volumes. Thorough manual mapping of large erosional features using the ArcGIS 10.1 Geographic Information System was required as these mapped features determined the eroded volume boundaries in 3D space. The 3D pre-erosional surface for each mapped feature was interpolated based on the boundary elevations. A surface difference calculation was run using the estimated pre-erosional surfaces and LiDAR surfaces to determine volume of sediment potentially delivered into the stream system. In addition, cross sections of altered channels and streams were taken using stratified random selection based on channel gradient and stream order respectively. The original pre-storm surfaces of channel features were estimated using the cross sections and erosion depth criteria. Open source software Inkscape was used to estimate cross sectional areas for randomly selected channel features and then averaged for each channel gradient and stream order classes. The average areas were then multiplied by the length of each class to estimate total eroded altered channel and stream volume. Finally, reservoir and in-channel depositional volumes were estimated by mapping channel forms and generating specific reservoir elevation zones associated with depositional events. The in-channel areas and zones within the reservoir were multiplied by estimated and field observed sediment thicknesses to attain a best guess sediment volume. In channel estimates included re-occupying stream channel cross sections established before the fire. Once volumes were calculated, other erosion processes of the Bagley sedimentation study, such as surface soil erosion were combined to estimate the total fire and storm sediment budget for the Squaw Creek watershed. The LiDAR-based measurement workflows can be easily applied to other sediment budget studies using one high resolution LiDAR dataset.