Reconstructed Sediment Mobilization Processes in a Large Reservoir Using Short Sediment Cores

Friday, 19 December 2014
Jaclyn Cockburn and Samantha Feist, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
Williston Reservoir in northern British Columbia (56°10’31”N, 124°06’33”) was formed when the W.A.C. Bennett Dam was created in the late 1960s, is the largest inland body of water in BC and facilitates hydroelectric power generation. Annually the reservoir level rises and lowers with the hydroelectric dam operation, and this combined with the inputs from several river systems (Upper Peace, Finlay, Parsnip, and several smaller creeks) renews suspended sediment sources. Several short-cores retrieved from shallow bays of the Finlay Basin reveal near-annual sedimentary units and distinct patterns related to both hydroclimate variability and the degree to which the reservoir lowered in a particular year. Thin section and sedimentology from short-cores collected in three bays are used to evaluate sediment mobilization processes. The primary sediment sources in each core location is linked to physical inputs from rivers draining into the bays, aeolian contributions, and reworked shoreline deposits as water levels fluctuate. Despite uniform water level lowering across the reservoir, sediment sequences differed at each site, reflecting the local stream inputs. However, distinct organic-rich units, facilitated correlation across the sites. Notable differences in particle size distributions from each core points to important aeolian derived sediment sources. Using these sedimentary records, we can evaluate the processes that contribute to sediment deposition in the basin. This work will contribute to decisions regarding reservoir water levels to reduce adverse impacts on health, economic activities and recreation in the communities along the shores of the reservoir.