Quantifying sedimentation patterns of small landslide‐dammed lakes in the central Oregon Coast Range

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Geological Sciences

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Understanding sedimentation patterns in small coastal watersheds due to landscape perturbations is critical for connecting hillslope and fluvial processes, in addition to managing aquatic habitats for anadromous fish and other aquatic species in the Oregon Coast Range (OCR). Changes in sedimentation patterns spanning the last 250 years are preserved in two landslide‐dammed lakes in small watersheds (< 10 km2) underlain by the Tyee Formation in the central OCR. Dendrochronology of drowned Douglas‐fir stumps in both lakes provided precise timing of the damming and formation of the lakes, with Klickitat Lake forming in winter ad 1751/52 and Wasson Lake in winter ad 1819/20. Perturbations from wildfires, logging and road development, and previously underappreciated snow events affect sedimentation rates in the lakes to different degrees, and are identified in the sediment record using cesium‐137 (137Cs), high‐resolution charcoal stratigraphy, local fire records, and aerial photography. Each lake has variable sedimentation accumulation rates (0.05–4.4 cm yr−1) and mass accumulation rates (0.02–1.42 g cm−2 yr−1). Sedimentation rates remained low from the landslide‐damming events until the mid‐19th century, when they increased following stand‐replacing wildfires. Aside from a sediment remobilization triggered by human modification of the landslide dam at Klickitat Lake around 1960, the largest peaks in mass accumulation rates in the mid‐20th century at both lakes in the early 1950s precede major road construction and logging activity in the watersheds. Subsequent sedimentation rates are lower, but variable, and possible effects of logging and road development might be exacerbated by abnormal precipitation and heavy snow events. A comparison of previous studies of landslide‐dammed lakes in larger watershed of the OCR are consistent with our findings of increased sedimentation in the mid‐20th century, as well as higher sedimentation rates in the debris‐flow dominated southern Tyee Formation than in the lower‐relief northern Tyee Formation.


This article was originally published in Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Earth Surface Processes and Landforms


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