Thursday, March 11, 2010

Creek Filling

Last week, I showed a section of creek that was cleaned of accumulated gravel and silt by the falling of a tree. Here we have the opposite effect as a fallen tree causes material to accumulated in a formerly rock bottomed creek.

The branches of the fallen tree are catching debris and creating a dam across the creek. The dam slows runoff water and creates an upstream pool.

Moving water bounces small bits of gravel along the streambed. As the water reaches the dam, the velocity slows and loses the energy necessary to move the gravel. The gravel begins to pile up against the upstream side of the dam. Gravel will soon fill the pool and begin to fill areas farther upstream.

The water flowing over the dam creates a downstream plunge pool. The falling water has enough energy to keep anything from settling here.

The stream continues below the dam as a clean, rock bottom. This dam won’t last for more than a few years. The branches holding the debris are small and will quickly decompose. Eventually, a flood will carry it all away.

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