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During May 11-26, VeeAnn Cross, Ken Parolski, and Dave Twichell (WHFC) conducted a small-boat cruise in Lake Mead in cooperation with Mark Rudin of the Health Physics Department at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV).
Bathymetry, sidescan sonar, and chirp subbottom data were collected to map the thickness and distribution of sediment that has accumulated in the lake since Hoover Dam was built 65 years ago. The information was provided to several government agencies and universities involved in studies of the lake (UNLV, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Bureau of Reclamation, USGS-WRD, and National Park Service).
The field operation included several novelties such as hauling the boat out of the water and bringing it to the gear for the cruise mobilization, having a carpeted main lab, and realizing that questions concerning what the sidescan was showing could be answered by looking out the windows at the surrounding landscape.
Because the data processing was done in the field and incorporated into a GIS as the cruise progressed, the cruise participants were able to provide to the press the sidescan imagery draped over a DEM of the lake and surrounding area, rendered in 3-D on the screen with ArcView-3-D Analyst.
Articles in two newspapers, a clip on television, and a segment on NPR demonstrated the local interest in the study.
As much as 30 m of sediment fills part of the lake while roads are still clearly preserved in other parts. Sediment appears to be deposited either right at the lake's edge as deltas or as fine-grained turbidites filling the old river channels at the bottom of the lake.
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