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Stanton Repeat Photography

Mile 55.8, 55-Mile Marsh, Upstream View from River Left (Stake 2313a)

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Stake 2313a, 18 January 1890 View Larger Image
18 January 1890
This upstream view of the Colorado River from river left shows a mostly barren hillslope of colluvium derived from nearby cliffs of Muav Limestone (right side). A few Mormon tea appear in the foreground as well as one brittlebush, likely blurred in the wind because the exposure time was long; Stanton’s camera had no shutter. This image shows what would become known as 55-Mile Marsh, but at this time the site, on the left side of the view in the shadows, is barren sand with a few exposed boulders. One of the many backwaters once present in this wide, low-gradient reach appears at left center.
Photo credit: Robert B. Stanton, 57-RS-362, courtesy of The National Archives

Stake 2313a, 5 February 1991 View Larger Image
5 February 1991
A century later, the vegetation in 55-Mile Marsh includes non-native tamarisk, along with the mesquite, catclaw, and phragmites; other lower stature riparian species are undoubtedly present. This marsh is recovering from the high-water years of the mid-1980s, which removed much of the once thriving riparian ecosystem here and deposited considerable coarse sand in its place. The two Mormon tea individuals that were present in the foreground of the 1890 view are still alive 101 years later, but the original brittlebush is dead and a new one is closer to the camera station. Some of the mesquite in the old high-water line are dead or dying.
Photo credit: Ted Melis

Stake 2313a, 19 September 2010 View Larger Image
19 September 2010
This match is forward of the original camera station, in part because the slope here is unstable, but this does not affect interpretation of change of any of the plants in the 1889 or 1991 views. The density of the marsh vegetation has increased, especially phragmites that lines the shoreline, in part because discharges in the intervening 19 years have mostly been low. Both Mormon tea individuals persist, although the one at front center is smaller; the brittlebush new in 1991 has died but three new plants appear in the view. Unlike many reaches, the mesquite on the right bank appear to be alive despite flow regulation, which has negatively impacted the old high-water zone through most of Grand Canyon.
Photo credit: John Mortimer

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