Role of storms and forest practices in sedimentation of an Oregon Coast Range lake

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 5:15 PM
Kristin Richardson, Jeff A Hatten, Robert A Wheatcroft and Francisco J. Guerrero, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States
The design of better management practices in forested watersheds to face climate change and the associated increase in the frequency of extreme events requires a better understanding of watershed responses to extreme events in the past and also under management regimes. One of the most sensitive watershed processes affected is sediment yield. Lake sediments record events which occur in a watershed and provide an opportunity to examine the interaction of storms and forest management practices in the layers of the stratigraphy. We hypothesize that timber harvesting and road building since the 1900s has resulted in increases in sedimentation; however, the passage of the Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA) in 1972 has led to a decrease in sedimentation. Sediment cores were taken at Loon Lake in the Oregon Coast Range. The 32-m deep lake captures sediment from a catchment highly impacted by recent land use and episodic Pacific storms. We can use sedimentological tools to measure changes in sediment production as motivated by extreme floods before settlement, during a major timber harvesting period, and after installation of forestry Best Management Practices. Quantification of changes in particle size and elemental composition (C, N, C/N) throughout the cores can elucidate changes in watershed response to extreme events, as can changes in layer thickness. Age control in the cores is being established by Cesium-137 and radiocarbon dating. Given the instrumental meteorological data and decadal climate reconstructions, we will disentangle climate driven signals from changes in land use practices. The sediment shows distinct laminations and varying thickness of layers throughout the cores. Background deposition is composed of thin layers (<0.5 cm) of fine silts and clays, punctuated by thicker layers (3-25 cm) every 10 to 75 cm. These thick layers consist of distinctly textured units, generally fining upward. We interpret the thick layers in Loon Lake to be deposited by sediment-producing floods throughout much of the 1500-year lifespan of this lake. We will explore the relationship between sedimentation, land use, and climate forcing events to determine if the OFPA is having an effect on reducing sedimentation rates as a result of extreme magnitude storm events.