Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Stream Profile

We parked the truck this morning, stepped outside the cab and saw this (Save for the tire, it's a pretty good viewscape):

En route to the site of interest, found these icicles that showcase the concept of dissolved organic matter:

Many nice riffles and some beautiful corner holes. We were spooking trout left and right - they were pretty much where you'd expect to find them.

We observed a number of redds (at least in my estimation) - marked by "washed gravel" in richly-oxygenated waters. We were careful to avoid them. I believe that there are 1-2 redds in this photo:

After hiking in a bit, we found a good site for recording a cross-section and a longitudinal profile. The cross-section is a surveyed record of the channel shape at a given point along the stream. Over time, multiple cross-sections can indicate stream and channel behavior (see example here). We set a couple temporary monuments (one spike in oak of 2.4 feet, one spike in hard maple of 2.1 feet), and the plan is to return and set some more permanent markers so the cross-section can be repeated with confidence in years to come. The longitudinal profile covered 300 feet of stream. In that football field of length, there were four riffles (pretty good, I'd say). We shot the top and bottom of each riffle (profile should go like-structure to like-structure), as well as a few indicators of bankfull flow. The total fall of the stream from top to bottom of the profile was ~0.4 feet. The beautiful riffles and pools in this reach are maintained by gravity flow of water down a grade with a total fall of 0.4 feet over 300 feet horizontal. All the trout we saw in there are kept happy by that fall... pretty cool.

Finally, we extracted a sediment sample from a depositional feature in the streambed. This sample will be run through a series of sieves to determine the particle size distribution (PSD). The PSD can then be compared to an estimation (derived from the longitudinal profile) of the particles that would be transported by a stable stream of the dimensions observed today. Thus, this reach can be documented as degrading, aggrading or stable. Over time, the stream state can be better and further understood as more surveys are recorded and more sediment samples are collected and analyzed. Ultimately, this information, paired with fisheries data and water quality information, will track the health of this system.

The one bucket has no bottom. The protocol is to use the bankfull elevation to compute the point at which you should extract the sample, then place the bottomless bucket on a depositional feature... remove the two largest particles from the surface and save them... dig inside the bucket to a depth of twice the width of largest particle... saving the entire sample for sieve analysis.

We were left to ponder the hole.

Some notes:
(1) Saw a lot of trout. Some big trout too.
(2) What a place. This was not Whitewater or Root, but it was clearly at that level. A gem... I've fished it before, but never this reach. On my list now for an extended day's exploration next year.
(3) Pileated woodpecker circled. So did baldies.
(4) It's extremely valuable to deploy with a veteran who can teach you. That was the case today. We worked well together.
(5) I learned that "goat prairies" are the steeply-sloped patches of grass on the faces of our big bluffs. Good name for them.
(6) No where did we see signs of permanent human culture. No buildings, roads or fields (after we left the truck behind). We found some utter quiet out there. I think some folks understand what a comfort it is to know that those places are still around and pretty well intact.

12 Comments:

Anonymous winonaflyfactory said...

This looks fun. I'm curious, was this pure pleasure or was this for some larger purpose? DNR? I could learn alot from you.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Jean-Paul Lipton said...

ah, the work of Rosgen...

We wrapped our field operations this morning. Frost is is getting in deep up north here, and lakes are getting iced over.

Looks like you had a beautiful day out in the field; I was out in a few inches of snow.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Still reeling from how good that day was...

Know getting ass-whipped by a cold wind. Winter. When I was a kid I didn't mind it, but now I really look forward to things that grow in dirt and carp that nose in silt.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Should mention that this survey was for work... not DNR, but close.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Is that my friend, Bill?

4:43 PM  
Anonymous HZiols said...

Very very cool icicles, and glad to know BT is out with you!

9:07 PM  
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