Abstract discussing a project to determine erosion rate.

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Abstract discussing a project to determine erosion rate.

© All Rights Reserved

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Previous studies have shown that runoff and erosion processes control sediment budget and form

of a catchment. Here we attempt to understand how these processes work by conducting a study

of runoff, hillslope stability and sediment yields. Based on field observations and data gathered

at a small tributary in Lone Tree Creek, approximate theory based calculations were done to

estimate rates of runoff to range from 9-51 mm/yr along the scar, and sediment yield to be 205

tons/km/yr.

Introduction:

The evolution of a landscape is affected by many variables including runoff, sediment yield

bioturbation, and topography (Lehre et al. 1981). The rate of these variables play a crucial role

in the speed and change of a landscape, as well as the potential for hillslope failure. Although

these processes are better understood today, much uncertainty remains in the observed rates of these

factors (Syvitski and Millman 2007). Observations at the site suggest the prevalence of several factors

affecting the landscape: weathering from runoff and precipitation, animal burrowing, and tree throws

We estimated sediment yield in a small tributary in Lone Tree Creek, located in Marin County.

This site accumulated sediment throughout the Holocene epoch. We will compare this value with

larger q basins from around the world. Assuming saturation at failure, we approximated values of

precipitation needed for failure at various points along the landslide scar.

The importance of runoff and erosion processes in sediment budget and catchment formation

have long since been known (Wilson et al. 1987). Their presence in geomorphic modeling is

crucial, yet only a simplification of the processes has been established. With little field data to

validate or reject these models, the accuracy of these models is questionable (McKean et al.

1993).

Methods:

Cross sectional and longitudinal profile: When surveying the landslide scar, a hand

level and brunton were used to obtain data. This was done by having one person use a stadia rod

and another person with the sight standing at a known elevation take foresights to determine the

elevation throughout the cross section/longitudinal profile. As this was done, the person taking

the sight measurements would have to take a backsight anytime they moved location in order to

re-establish their elevation.

Catchment and Colluvium Boundary: The boundary of the catchment and colluvium

were measured using a compass and tape measure. Based on the vegetation changes and

topography, the extent of accumulated colluvial deposit was interpreted. Along the perimeter a

distance, azimuth and inclination reading was taken. This process was repeated to map the

perimeter of the catchment and landslide. (See figures 2-4 in appendix)

Calculations: Areas, Volumes, Densities and Masses and Time These were determined by

the field methods previously mentioned. The effective source area (as), which is essentially the

time-averaged source area, is calculated by subtracting the drainage area by half the depositional

area. Volumes of the colluvium, (Vc) and scar were calculated using the depth of the colluvium

to match the depth of the scar. The average bulk density of the weathered bedrock, (wb) and

3

fresh bedrock(b) were used as 2.0 g/cm and 2.4 g/cm ; and the average bulk density of the coll

3

uvium (c) and density of soil (s) as 1.9 g/cm and 1.25 g/cm respectively, using Reneau et. al.

1990 as a reference. Mass of the colluvium is determined by using the bulk density of colluvium

and the volume of the colluvium. It is assumed that colluvium deposit began around 13,000 years

ago, (T), from carbon dating done on charcoal found at the site.

dissolution as

Mass Transport Rates :

It is assumed that the direction of the flow of the sediment is perpendicular to the contour lines in

the map provided by Lehre. The effective length of the boundary between the source and

and alpha is the angle between the direction of mass transport and 10 chosen locations tangent to

assumed to be 0.25 m (Dietrich, et al., 1995). The sediment yield production rate was

determined using

[eq.

9]. The estimated average slope angle () was determined as the average of 5 arbitrary locations

[eq. 10]

Shallow subsurface flow: Each cross section had the upslope drainage area (a), cross sectional

width (b) and the reconstructed ground surface slope ( in degrees) were determined using

our field data. Effective precipitation, or steady state runoff (q) is determined assuming the ratio

assumed to be 17 m/day, h is the depth above the saturated ground. The degree of saturation, h/z

was assumed to be 1 for all of the cross sections.

Stability analysis: The average slope () of the failure plane and the average failure plane depth

(z) were calculated using field data. Using w as the density of water, the void ratio (e) can be

determined as

[eq. 12], f is the dry bulk density at depth h/z. The saturated bulk

density is calculated as

cohesion (C) are assumed to be 45 degrees and 0 (Reneau et al. 1990). Then the shear stress,

[eq. 14.]

Results:

Areas, Volumes, Densities and Masses and Time: The effective source area (a) was found to

be 3100 m. The total area of the colluvium deposit was calculated to be 930 m. For all areas

and volumes refer to tables 1-3 in appendix abstracted by the depositional area divided by 2.

The average bulk density of the colluvium (c) was determined to be 1.9 g/cm. The mass lost

from dissolution was calculated to be 1,790 tons. The remaining densities and masses are stated

in table 4 in the appendix.

Lowering Rates: The surface lowering rate (L) and weathered bedrock lowering rate (Lwb)

were calculated to be 0.108 mm/yr and 0.0675 mm/yr. The lowering due to dissolution was

determined to be 0.0166 mm/yr. These are provided in table 5 in the appendix.

Mass Transport Rates: The transport rate (qdiss) was determined to be 15.54 cm/cm/yr. The

sediment yield production rate (qsp) was determined to be 205 tons/km/yr. Average soil velocity

was calculated to be 6.2 mm/yr. Soil diffusivity, K, was determined 44 cm/yr. Refer to table 6 in

the appendix for remaining results regarding.

Shallow Subsurface Flow: Effective precipitation (q) was determined to be 15 mmday, 33

mm/day, 48 mm/day, 51 mm/day, and 9 mm/day for cross sections 1-4 and the lowest contour

respectively. The reconstructed ground surface slope, upslope drainage area (a), and cross

sectional width (b) are provided in table 7 in the appendix.

Stability analysis: The average slope () of the failure plane, was determined to be 14 degrees.

The degree of saturation (h/z) was calculated to be 1.3. Log(q/T) for cross section 1 and the

lowest contour were found to be -3.0 and -3.4 respectively. Refer to table 8 in the appendix for

values related to these calculations.

Discussion:

Erosional Processes in the Lone Tree Creek area: In the Lone Tree Creek area, both biotic and

abiotic processes affect the landscape. The main biotic processes in this region include tree

throws and burrowing, and the main abiotic processes include dissolution induced collapse, and

shear deformation (Heimsath et al. 1997). Observations of several tree throws and an abundance

of burrowing support these findings. Surface erosion through saturated overland flow are

observed to cause channel incision (Wilson and Dietrich et al. 1987).

K Comparison: Our value of K was found to be approximately 44 cm/yr, while in McKean et

al. (1993), K is determined to be 345 and 375. This discrepancy in K ..The clay rich soils in the

Black Diamond area move at a faster rate than stronger granular soils, which is consistent with

the larger value of K. As stated in McKean et al. (1993), the average K in California is 4 ( / )

37 cm/yr. The weak clay soils present in Black Diamond cause K to be an order of magnitude

greater than our own, while our value is lower due to the sandstones present at our site.

Soil Production Rate Comparison: We calculated the soil production rate to be 210

tons/km/yr. According to Lehre et al. (1981), the annual production rate from 1971-1972 148

tons/km/yr; 985 t/km in 1972-1973, and 1575 t/km in 1973-1974. Starting around 1973, there

was an abundance of rainfall, which explains why the production rate was so high. It is

mentioned in Lehres work that 1971 was a dry year, which is congruent with the observations

we observed at the site. This is validated by how close our rate of 210 is to 148.

Compare Lowering Rate:Our bedrock lowering rate value of 0.068 mm/yr, or 68 m/Myr.

Heimsath et al. (1997) reported a similar range of 11-130m/Myr in this same region. Our value

fits in the middle of this range, thus validating our approximation. This suggests that our

calculations and assumptions previously made are in fact reasonable.

Erosion Rate Comparison: When comparing our erosion rate with other values from rivers

around the world, our data point falls in the middle of the cluster (Syvitski and Millman 2007).

This validates the accuracy of our assumptions and calculations used to determine our value. It is

reasonable for our value to fall in the middle of the spectrum since the annual precipitation and

intensity of storms at the site are not extreme.

Chemical Denudation: Chemical denudation is largely driven by water in the landscape, and

thus is directly related to the amount of precipitation received by the landscape. Heimsath et al.

(1997) reports that this area receives an average rainfall of 760mm. Although the rainfall is not

abundant, there is enough water to allow for the dissolution of the bedrock to occur. Our

estimated value of annual mass loss from dissolution is 1790 tons supports this idea. This process

weakens and allows the conversion of bedrock to colluvium to occur, namely dissolution helps to

destroy the relict rock structure.

Land use influence on Slope Stability: The proposal made in (Lehre et al. 1981) proposed that

cattle grazing on hillslope caused a ten fold increase in landslides over the past 50-150 years. We

agree with his analysis because cattle grazing on the land will likely cause the grassland and

vegetation to decrease. As a result, root strength decreases, which leads to a decrease in the net

strength of the hillslope, thus making it more susceptible to hillslope failure (ie. landslide).

Reasons why site failed in 1974: There are several reasons for the site failure to have occurred

in 1974 rather than in previous years. The higher amount of precipitation in 1974 compared to

previous years is perhaps the most reasonable explanation for the site failure to occur in this year.

However, it may also be due to the gradual decrease in root strength (Dietrich 1982). Although

previous years may have had as much precipitation as in 1974, but the root strength would have

been higher, thus keeping the hillslope from failing.

Steady State Precipitation: The steady state daily precipitation required for steady state

saturation are 15 mm/day, 33 mm/day, 48 mm/day, 51 mm/day for cross sections 1-4 and 10

mm/day for the lowest contour (See table 7). These estimates seem reasonable when compared to

the majority of daily rainfall are less than 65 mm (Lehre et al. 1981). Since all of our estimated

precipitations required for saturation fall under this range, then it is an accurate assumption.

q/T comparison: Using the SHALSTAB theory, our q/T values for cross section 1 and the

lowest contour were 0.001 and 0.00038 respectively. However, when compared to the value of

q/T using the effective precipitation in the shallow subsurface slope stability analysis and

transmissivity (T) as 17m/day, q/T is 8x10 for saturation of the site. The fact that we have a

higher value than needed for saturation suggests that this is an unstable hillslope.

The q/T value calculated from the 1 m digital elevation data derived from airborne laser swath

mapping compared to our q/T value of for cross section 1 suggest that as the root strength

decreases, this area has the potential for landslides . However our q/T value of for the lowest

contour may be too high, suggesting that the hillside was too steep for hillslope instability.

Conclusion:

We have shown how runoff and erosion processes control sediment flux. As water flows through

a hillslope, dissolution occurs and weakens the bedrock. Over time this bedrock is weathered and

converted to soil resulting in a mass loss from the bedrock which leads to several processes,

including surface lowering and the transport of soil. In previous studies in this region, the

sediment transport law is determined to be linearly dependent on surface slope. Based on this

information we determined the stability of a slope by estimating the required precipitation for

surface saturation. Mean annual rainfall recorded in this region are within this amount of

precipitation, suggesting potential for hillslope failure. Note that the shorter the longer the

landslide scar width, the larger the upslope drainage area. This leads to a smaller effective

precipitation needed for site failure. Geomorphic modeling and theory-based calculations are still

unable to incorporate all processes influencing landscape evolution. By comparing our sediment

yield for this tributary with other basins throughout the world, we get our approximation to lie in

the middle of the global data. This suggests that the assumptions made in our calculations were

valid, thus giving our findings some empirical backing.

Appendix

Table 1.

Cross Sectional

Area

Cross Sectional

Number

Colluvial

Deposit

Landslide Scar

Gully

Units

12.5

15.85

11.8

25.5

1.2

32.1

45

4.9

46.2

36.46

5.8

Table 2.

Volumes

Total Colluvial Deposit

Table 3.

2900

m 2,900,000,000

cm

Landslide Scar

1110

m 1,110,000,000

cm

Gully

125

cm

125,000,000

Basin Area

Drainage Basin Area

3600

925

Source Area

2700

3100

Table 4.

Bulk Densities and

Masses

Avg. Bulk Density, c

1.9

g/ cm

1.25

g/ cm

g/ cm

2.4

g/ cm

5,510,000

kg

1,790

tons

1,790,000

kg

Dissolution

Table 5.

Lowering Rates

1.08 x 10^Surface Lowering Rate

m/yr

0.108

mm/yr

6.75 x 10^-5

m/yr

0.0675

mm/yr

Lowering due to

Dissolution

1.66 x 10^-5

m/yr

0.0166

mm/yr

144

30

degrees

pi/6

rad

71

7100

cm

0.25

25

cm

6.21

mm/yr

20

degrees

pi/9

rad

Soil diffusivity, K

44

cm/yr

Table 6.

Mass Transport Rates

length (l)

16

cm/cm/yr

0.21

kg/m/yr

205 tonnes/km/yr

205

tons/km/yr

Table 7.

Shallow

Subsurface

Flow

Cross-Section

Upslope

Drainage

Area (m)

Cross

Sectional

Width (m)

Reconstructed

Effective precipitation

Ground Surface Slope or steady state runoff

(degrees)

(mm/day)

theta

4180

13

17

15

2950

18.5

18

33

2050

22

15

48

1350

21.5

11

51

lowest contour

4830

6.5

23

Table 8.

Stability Analysis

, Average slope of failure

plane

14

degrees

Depth

3.5

1.6

g/cm

e, Void rate

0.27

g/cm

1.79

g/cm

45

degree

Pa

, Shear stress

14.4

Pa

, Normal Stress

58,000

Pa

u, Pore Pressure

43,000

Pa

-3

-3.4

Figure 1.

Table of Contents

Abstract.pg.1

Introduction.pg.2

Methods.pg.2

Results.pg.5

Discussion.pg.6

Conclusion.pg.9

Appendix .pg.10

References Cited..pg. 23

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