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Debris recharge rates in torrented gullies on the Queen Charlotte Islands Oden, Marian Elizabeth


This study is an examination of the rate at which organic debris and clastic sediment accumulate in a gully after it is scoured by a debris torrent. Of particular interest is the effect that a change in land use from old-growth to clear-cut conditions may have on these rates. This change should result in a reduction in the delivery of large organic debris (LOD), which is a major factor in sediment storage in gullies. It is hypothesized that this change in land use, and the subsequent reduction in the LOD supply, should result in a significant difference in debris recharge rates between old-growth and clear-cut gullies. Twenty-nine gullies in both land-treatment groups were sampled on the west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Sampling procedures involved the estimation of the volume of LOD and sediment in storage (normalized by the gully surface area) and the determination of the time elapsed since the last debris torrent. These data were then used to estimate recharge rates(3h1)am’year of LOD, sediment, and total debris. Recharge rates of each material were compared between land-treatment groups using the nonparametric Mann-Whitney test. This test revealed that LOD has been delivered to old-growth gullies at a significantly higher rate relative to clear-cut gullies. There was no significant difference in sediment and total debris recharge rates between gullies in the two groups, but this outcome was partially a result of the small samples and the different debris recharge times in each data set. Graphical representations of the data permitted the identification of possible temporal trends in sediment and debris accumulation, which may be strengthened with larger data sets. Debris recharge rates have several applications. The estimate of sediment volume stored in a gully can be used in the construction of local sediment budgets, as one component of a watershed sediment cascade is quantified. The calculation of debris recharge rates will provide insight into the transfer rate of sediment from hillslopes to low order channels and to the storage capacity of the channels. Finally, debris recharge rates can be used to improve knowledge of the frequency-magnitude characteristics of debris torrents in an area.

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