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Lake sediment-based sediment yields and erosion rates in the Coast Mountains, British Columbia Owens, Philip Neil


Lake sediments have been identified as an alternative to contemporary stream monitoring to establish catchment sediment yields and infer erosion rates. This is due primarily to the longer time period over which the former is based, which makes established yields and rates more representative of means or trends in sedimentation. Studies using lake sediments to establish sediment yields have generally assumed that all the sediment contained within a lake is derived from erosion of the catchment under investigation. This study undermines this assumption by constructing a comprehensive lake sediment budget to asses the relative contributions from various sources. Late Holocene (the last 2350 years) rates of sediment yield and erosion are established for 3 small (<1 km²) catchments that straddle timberline (1620 - 1850 m above sea level) in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. Due to the temporal and spatial variability of sedimentation in lakes, sediment cores for each lake were taken using a multiple-core approach. Chronology was established by the presence of a dated tephra layer. Once the cores were extracted, corrections were made for sediment derived from aquatic productivity (organic matter and biogenic silica), regional aeolian dust input, the erosion of lake banks and for outflow losses. These sources of sediment could account for between 55 and 99% of the sediment contained within the 3 lakes. Lake trap efficiency ranges from low to >70%. Once corrected, estimates of sediment yield range from 4 and 244 kg km⁻²yr⁻¹. The rate of regional aeolian deposition indicates that, in certain areas, these catchments are undergoing net deposition and not net erosion. The implications for lake sediment-based sediment yields and erosion rates are examined. When placed in a regional context sediment yields are more than 1 order of magnitude lower than larger scale basins due to changes in sediment storage. The spatial and temporal representativeness of the data are also evaluated.

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