Date of Award:

12-2009

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Geology

Advisor/Chair:

Tammy M. Rittenour

Abstract

At the turn of the century, Kanab Creek incised 30-meters into its alluvium, leaving behind fluvial terraces and thick basin fill sediments exposed along arroyo walls. Research objectives were to determine the timing and causes of past valley-filling and arroyo-cutting episodes along a 20 km-long reach of Kanab Creek in southern Utah. Fluvial deposits were mapped at the 1:12,000 scale and sediments were described and dated using Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) and radiocarbon dating. The Kanab Creek valley can be divided into a narrow, upper terraced reach and a broad lower basin fill reach near Kanab, Utah. The most prominent terrace in the upper reach is Quaternary alluvial terrace 4 (Qat4), followed by Qat3, Qat2/3, and Qat2 map units. These are composed of tabular-bedded, fine-grained sand, silt, and clay layers. The Qat2/3 map unit is a both a fill and fill-cut terrace underlain by Qa4, Qa3, and Qa2 alluvium and is used when the Qat3 fill-cut (fill-strath) terrace can not be differentiated from the Qat2 fill terrace due to their similar geomorphic position. The Qat3 fill-cut terrace upstream correlates to ~8 meters of aggradation downstream. The youngest terrace, Qat1, is a minor terrace, composed of coarse-grained channel facies. More recent channel and floodplain deposits were deposited over the last century following arroyo cutting. OSL and radiocarbon results suggest at least four cycles of fluvial cutting and filling: >6-3.5ka (Qa4), ~3->1ka (Qa3), 0.7-0.12ka (Qa2), and post-1880 AD (Qa1). Correlation to regional climate records suggests major periods of aggradation correlate to regionally cooler and wetter climatic intervals. Periods of arroyo cutting occurred at >6ka, ~3ka, 1-0.7ka, and during historic arroyo cutting (1882-1914 AD), and correlate to regionally warmer, drier intervals. These periods of aggradation and incision are roughly contemporaneous with regional drainages, except for the large aggradation seen in Kanab Creek 6-3.5ka (Qa4). Analysis of terrace longitudinal profiles indicates Qat4 has the lowest concavity suggesting that Qat4 aggraded during a period of greater sediment supply and/or reduced flood regime. Although OSL samples exhibited some degree of incomplete zeroing, calculated ages using a minimum age model are consistent with radiocarbon results.

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