Date of Award:

2001

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Geology

Advisor/Chair:

John C. Schmidt

Abstract

The organization and morphology of Middle Fork Sheep Creek and South Fork Sheep Creek, two mountain streams in the upper Sheep Creek basin, are controlled by the spatial distribution of glacial moraines. Both channels are organized into a reoccurring sequence of steep-gradient reaches changing downstream to low-gradient reaches. Steep-gradient reaches are located where the channels flow through moraine s. Low-gradient reaches are located in meadows downstream of the steep-gradient reaches and immediately upstream of the next moraine. Knickpoints in the longitudinal profiles of both streams coincide with the location of moraines. Large boulder s, beyond the size transportable by the channel at bankfull discharge, are found within the steep-gradient channels, and are presumed to be glacial lag. Between knickpoints, channel morphology follows the conceptual model of Montgomery and Buffington. Unlike mountain channels elsewhere, landslides, debris flows, and alluvial fans do not influence the morphology or organization of Middle Fork Sheep Creek and South Fork Sheep Creek. Large woody debris loading is less than on channels in Washington and Alaska, with debris dams found mainly in reaches with gradients less than cascade and greater than pool-riffle. Middle Fork Sheep Creek and South Fork Sheep Creek are located in a glaciated basin. At time scales of 103 to 104 years, the channels may be classified as in disequilibrium and the system is not adjusted to present conditions. The presence of large, unmovable boulder s within the steep-gradient channels allows the location of the steep-gradient channels to remain static until the large particles are transported during infrequent large discharges. At time scales of 101 to 102 years, the channels may be thought of as equilibrium systems with channel variables adjusted to the present climate.

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