Erik Schiefer

and 6 more

Suspended sediment delivery and deposition in proglacial lakes is generally sensitive to a wide range of hydrometeorologic and geomorphic controls. High discharge conditions are of particular importance in many glaciolacustrine records, with individual floods potentially recorded as distinctive turbidites. We used an extensive network of surface sediment cores and hydroclimatic monitoring data to analyze recent flood turbidites and associated sediment transfer controls over instrumental periods at Eklutna Lake, western Chugach Mountains, Alaska. Close to a decade of fluvial data from primary catchment tributaries show a dominating influence of discharge on sediment delivery, with various interconnections with other related hydroclimatic controls. Multivariate fluvial models highlight and help quantify some complexities in sediment transfer, including intra-annual variations, meteorological controls, and the influence of subcatchment glacierization. Sediments deposited in Eklutna Lake during the last half century are discontinuously varved and contain multiple distinctive turbidites. Over a 30-year period of stratigraphic calibration, we correlate the four thickest flood turbidites (1989, 1995, 2006, 2012) to specific regional storms. The studied turbidites correlate with late-summer and early-autumn rainstorms with a magnitude of relatively instantaneous sedimentation 3 to 15 times greater than annual background accumulation. Our network of sediment core data captured the broad extent and sediment variability among the study turbidites and background sediment yield. Within-lake spatial modelling of deposition quantifies variable rates of downlake thinning and sediment focusing effects, and highlights especially large differences between the thickest flood turbidites and background sedimentation. This we primarily relate to strongly contrasting dispersion processes controlled by inflow current strength and turbidity. Sediment delivery is of interest for this catchment because of reservoir and water supply operations. Furthermore, although smaller floods may not be consistently represented, the lake likely contains a valuable proxy record of regional flooding proximal to major population centers of south-central Alaska including Anchorage.

Lorna Thurston

and 3 more

Seasonal suspended sediment transfer in glaciated catchments is responsive to meteorological, geomorphological, and glacio-fluvial conditions, and thus is a useful indicator of environmental system dynamics. Knowledge of multifaceted fluvial sediment-transfer processes is limited in the Arctic–a region sensitive to contemporary environmental change. For two glaciated sub-catchments at Lake Peters, northeast Brooks Range, Alaska, we conducted a two-year endeavor to monitor the hydrology and meteorology, and used the data to derive multiple-regression models of suspended sediment load. Statistical selection of the best models shows that incorporating meteorological or temporal explanatory variables improves performances of turbidity- and discharge-based sediment models. The resulting modeled specific suspended sediment yields to Lake Peters are: 33 (20-60) Mg km-2 yr-1 in 2015, and 79 (50-140) Mg km-2 yr-1 in 2016 (95% confidence band estimates). In contrast to previous studies in Arctic Alaska, fluvial suspended sediment transfer to Lake Peters was primarily influenced by rainfall, and secondarily influenced by temperature-driven melt processes associated with clockwise diurnal hysteresis. Despite different sub-catchment glacier coverage, specific yields were the same order of magnitude from the two primary inflows to Lake Peters, which are Carnivore Creek (128 km2; 10% glacier coverage) and Chamberlin Creek (8 km2; 23% glacier coverage). Seasonal to longer term sediment exhaustion and/or contrasting glacier dynamics may explain the lower than expected relative specific sediment yield from the more heavily glacierized Chamberlin Creek catchment. Absolute suspended sediment yield (Mg yr-1) from Carnivore Creek to Lake Peters was 28 times greater than from Chamberlin Creek, which we attribute to catchment size and sediment supply differences. Our results are useful for predicting changes in fluvial sediment transport in glaciated Arctic catchments.