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Sediment Study to Improve Salmon and Trout Habitat in Northern California Reservoir

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drill rig on Englebright Lake
Drill rig: The DOSECC (Drilling, Observation and Sampling of the Earth's Continental Crust, Inc.) drill rig.
From May 10 to 30, Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) staff participated in drilling the sediment of Englebright Lake, a reservoir behind Englebright Dam on the Yuba River in northern California. This research addresses the possibility of modifying the dam in order to improve salmon and trout habitat in the lake.

Harry L. Englebright Lake is in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada between Marysville and Grass Valley off California Highway 20. The 260-ft (80 m) Englebright Dam was completed in 1941 for the primary purpose of impounding anticipated hydraulic mining waste. However, gold mining in the Sierra Nevada was halted during World War II and never resumed. Today, the lake serves primarily as a recreational facility.

Englebright Lake is the central subject of the Upper Yuba River Studies Program (UYRSP), a research effort funded by the Calfed Bay-Delta Program, which supports not only drilling and other operating expenses, but also staff salaries. The objective of the UYRSP is to "develop a comprehensive plan to restore ecological processes, habitats, and species within the Yuba River drainage," directed at anadromous fish species, primarily spring-run chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and fall-run chinook salmon.

The principal investigator for CMGP's study of Englebright Lake sediment is Noah Snyder (Santa Cruz, CA), a new USGS postdoctoral researcher who earned his Ph.D. at MIT. Noah is working on this study as part of the Coastal Watershed Restoration Project. The principal objective of his work is to map the reservoir sediment in three dimensions. The three-dimensional sediment-distribution map will be used to calculate sediment transport out of the reservoir under several proposed dam-management scenarios. Principal collaborators on the project are Charlie Alpers and Lorri Flint, both with the USGS' Water Resources Discipline (WRD) in Sacramento, CA. Other collaborators include Chuck Holmes (CMGP, St. Petersburg, FL), Jim Bennett (WRD, Denver, CO), David Topping (WRD, Flagstaff, AZ), and Brian J. Haskell (Limnological Research Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis), who contributed his valuable expertise to the drilling effort.

Noah Snyder holds a GPS receiver
Noah Snyder holds a GPS (global positioning system) antenna to record the precise location of a core.
scientists on boat head out to drilling platform
Out to the rig: (Left to right) Brad Carkin, Homa Lee, and USGS volunteer Don Woodrow on their way to the drilling platform. Brian Edwards is behind the camera.

Drilling of Englebright Lake sediment was conducted under contract to DOSECC (Drilling, Observation and Sampling of the Earth's Continental Crust, Inc.), a consortium of universities, national laboratories, and a State (Illinois) geological survey. The contractors used the GLAD500 (Global Lake Drilling 500) system, a diminutive version of the GLAD800 platform, also known as the research vessel Kerry Kelts.

Before the drilling program, bathymetric surveys, geophysical surveys, sediment sampling, and bottom photography were carried out by a CMGP team that included Larry Kooker, Pat Hart, Gerry O'Brien, Tom Reiss, Mike Boyle, Hank Chezar, and Jon Childs (Menlo Park, CA).

The drilling program recovered a total of about 300 m of core from 22 holes at 7 sites, in sediment that ranged in grain size from silt to sand to gravel. Total thickness of postdam sediment in the locations cored ranged from 6 to 31 m. The cores are to be analyzed for sediment composition, geochronology, and mercury and gold contents.

In mid-May, Homa Lee, Brian Edwards, Dave Rubin, Brad Carkin, and volunteer Don Woodrow visited the lake to observe the GLAD500 drilling system in action and to assess its applicability to other CMGP projects.

Related Web Sites
Coastal & Marine Geology Program
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
DOSECC (Drilling, Observation and Sampling of the Earth's Continental Crust) Inc.
academic and research consortium
Limnological Research Center
University of Minnesota

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in this issue: Fieldwork cover story:
Sea Otter Numbers Slide for Second Straight Year

Lake Mead Sediment Study

Salmon & Trout Habitat

Outreach Students Tour M/V Auriga

Williams' Presentation on Videotape

Meetings Benthic-Habitat Symposium

Caribbean Climate Change Conference

Regional Syntheses

Scientists Speak in Reston & D.C.

Awards Remote-Sensing Conference

Staff & Center News Sea-Survival Course

Regional Geologist Visits WHFC

New WHFC Employees

New Student Interns

WHFC Labs Pass Audit

Award-Winning Student Volunteer

Publications Contaminated Sediment - Special Issue of Continental Shelf Research

July Publications List

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