Downstream Channel Change and Bed-material Transport along the North Fork Stillaguamish River Following the March 22, 2014 SR530 Landslide, Northwestern Washington, USA

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Mackenzie K Keith, USGS Oregon Water Science Center, Portland, OR, United States, Scott W Anderson, USGS Washington Water Science Center, Tacoma, WA, United States and Christopher S Magirl, U.S. Geological Survey, Tacoma, WA, United States
The March 22, 2014, catastrophic landslide near Oso, Washington, rapidly emplaced approximately 8 million m3 of slide material onto the valley floor, blocking the North Fork Stillaguamish River. Overtopping of the landslide dam and subsequent channel incision through the deposit mobilized large volumes of the glacial outwash, till, and lacustrine (silts and clays) sediment. The abundant sediment introduced to the gravel-bed channel prompted concerns of downstream aggradation and elevated hazards from seasonal flooding and channel migration. Our assessment of downstream aggradation potential and channel change was primarily based on 1) comparison of pre-slide to post-slide field-based and remote-sensing observations, 2) measurements of bedload transport, and 3) modeling of bedload transport for eight flow scenarios between 25% of the 2-year flow and the 100-year flow at several sites along the lower 65-km alluvial portion of the river. Although measurements of pre-slide grain-size distributions were highly variable from year to year, comparison of those counts to 2014 post-slide measurements show a general fining of channel and bar surface material. Between 2014 and 2015, we observed coarsening at some bars, most notably for sediment smaller than 4 mm. From aerial photograph inspection, the shape, size, and distribution of gravel and sand bars between the landslide and the mouth of the North Fork Stillaguamish River appears to have been relatively unchanged between 2013 and 2015. Post-slide bedload transport capacity rates were calculated using Parker, Wilcock and Crowe, and two forms of Recking equations. Transport capacities for the narrow and confined channel where it has incised through the landslide are much greater compared with the low gradient and wide floodplain segments downstream. Nevertheless, because of fine grain sizes within the landslide debris, most of the sediment has been transported through the downstream channel, resulting in minimal aggradation.