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Geomorphology 108 (2009) 823

Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Geomorphology j o u r

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Geomorphology

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Fluvial processes, morphology and sediment budgets in the Coon Creek Basin, WI, USA, 1975 1993

Stanley W. Trimble

Department of Geography, 1255 Bunche Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1524, United States

article info

Article history:

Received 8 June 2006 Received in revised form 12 November 2006 Accepted 12 November 2006 Available online 12 February 2009

Keywords:

Sediment budget Sediment yield Alluviation Flood plains Stream bank erosion Watershed management

abstract

Sediment budget processes in Coon Creek, Wisconsin, from 1975 to 1993 changed only moderately, generally continuing the trends that were evident in 1975. Perhaps most importantly, sediment yield to the Mississippi River appears to be unabated, with much of this clearly coming from storage loss, especially stream bank erosion. Vertical accretion continued on the lower (new) oodplains inset within their meander plains in tributaries and the upper main valley. The lower main valley also continued to aggrade but at the rate of about 6% of that occurring in the 1920s and 1930s. The major revision from earlier studies is that the upper main valley is a less signi cant net source of sediment than previously thought and the earlier prognostications of it being a signi cant net source of sediment in the future may be wrong. Perturbations have been caused by changes of riparian vegetation and, much more importantly, by the introduction of sh shelter structures and protected cut banks along the stream system reaching downstream to the end of the upper main valley. Because these structures do not permit natural stream migration, bank erosion and downstream sediment transfer, the Coon Creek basin has lost much of its suitability as a natural laboratory of uvial processes.

© 2009 Published by Elsevier B.V.

1. Introduction

Sediment budgets and attending uvial processes have increas- ingly occupied the attention of geomorphologists. Indeed, Reid and Dunne (2003) consider sediment budgets as the organizing frame- work in quantifying catchment-scale geomorphic processes (see that work for a ne review of work and concepts). The sediment budget of Coon Creek, Wisconsin, dating from the mid-19th century has been reported since 1939 (McKelvey, 1939; USDA, 1942; Haverland, 1944; Trimble, 1975a,b,c,d, 1976a,b,c, 1981, 1983, 1993, 1997a,b, 1999, 2004; Trimble and Lund, 1982). The Coon Creek study has been termed by Science as the most comprehensive study of its kind in the world( Glanz, 1999). The present paper is an extended version of a short paper appearing in Science in 1999 and is also a continuation of the 1983 paper cited above. Unlike some earlier reports (e.g., Trimble and Lund, 1982) which also considered slope processes, only stream processes and rates are considered here. The data and previously reported analyses for Coon Creek have come from over 120 cross sections originally surveyed in 1938, all resurveyed in detail during the period 1974 1979, but centering on 1975. Earlier pro les and sedimentary sequences were constructed from buried soil proles, archeological excavations, and historical data, and many new surveyed pro les were added 19751978. This

Tel.: +1 310 825 1314; fax: +1 310 206 5976. E-mail address: trimble@geog.ucla.edu .

0169-555X/$ see front matter © 2009 Published by Elsevier B.V. doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.11.015

paper reports on the results of resurveys of 92 proles conducted during the 5-year period centering on 1993. Additional data come from surveys conducted in 1982. Data from similar streams in the Driftless Area are also used. Detailed descriptions of the region, the basin and the research design are given in those earlier papers. The period 1975 1993 considered here, was remarkable because it featured two oods of at least 100 year magnitude. The rst of these was a basin-wide ood in 1978 and the second was a more local convectional storm in 1984 which centered on the upper part of the basin.

2. Overall historical sediment budgets of coon creek

The basin-wide sediment budget shows a great decrease in sediment uxes and storage in all parts of the basin over the historical period ( Fig. 1). The major point to be gained from this budget is that efux, the sediment yield to the Mississippi River, has remained constant over time despite the great decrease in upland erosion and overall sediment ux. Conservation practices on farms successfully reduced soil erosion, but sediment yield continued unabated as sediment stored in the bottomland continued to leave, primarily from stream bank erosion. As explicated in the 1983 Trimble paper, a stream with its oodplain has a maximum conveyance capacity and this capacity is clearly indicated for Coon Creek by the historical sediment budget. This disjunction between sediment supply and downstream sediment transport has signicant geomorphic implications: if alluvial

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S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 9 Fig. 1. Sediment budgets for Coon

Fig. 1. Sediment budgets for Coon Creek Wisconsin, 1853 to 1993. This basin is about 25 km southeast of La Crosse, Wisconsin and has an area of 360 km 2 . Numbers are annual averages for the periods in 10 3 Mg/year. All values are direct measurements except net upland sheet and rill erosion, which is the sum of all sinks and the ef ux minus the measured sources. The lower main valley and tributaries are sediment sinks whereas the upper main valley has been a sediment source (Trimble, 1999 ).

sediment deposits are available and mobile, a stream can reentrain them and they may appear as downstream sediment yield. This principle was earlier stated by Gilbert (1917) and Happ et al. (1940), Trimble (1970, 1974, 1975a, 1976a,b,c) and Schumm (1973 , who includes it as part of his complex responseconcept), but the evidence from Coon Creek is particularly compelling. These ndings are of both theoretical and practical interest, the latter through policy issues related to controlling non-point sources of pollutants often accompanying sediments in transport and deposition. There are also strong environmental and policy concerns relating not only to the sediment but also any chemical adsorbed onto the particles. Commenting on the implications of Fig. 1 as it appeared in Science ( Trimble, 1999), M. G. Wolman (quoted in Glanz, 1999) stated that: It means that if I control the materials coming off a eld or group of elds, it may be some time before I see the results of thatif I do, within decades.Referring to environmental policy and enforcement based on measured sediment yields, Wolman further stated that []

this could be to some people very disturbing. Indeed, in determining the response of a uvial system to environmental changes, sediment storage within a catchment appears to be much more important than sediment yield, the usual measure ( Happ et al., 1940, 1975; Trimble 1975c, 1976c, 1977).

3. Distributed sediment budgets within the basin

The processes portrayed in Fig. 1 are not uniform throughout the basin. Rather, these processes of sediment storage and ux are occurring at differential rates. However, there is continuity to the differentiation from headwaters to mouth. Since even the extensive data for Coon Creek are still too limited to allow quantication of a fully differential model, the situation can be approximated by regionalizing the basin into 3 reaches; tributaries, upper main valley and lower main valley ( Trimble, 1976a,b, 1981, 1983, 1993, 1999; Fig. 2). Processes, morphology and sediment budgets are homogenous

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10 S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 Fig. 2. Differential stream and valley

Fig. 2. Differential stream and valley sediment budgets, Coon Creek, WI, 1853 1993.

enough in each reach to be described as an entity. This regionalization

is the same as that used in the 1983 paper but the net rates have been

extended and revised for the period 1975 1993. These appear as dashed lines because end points are not yet known. Tributaries have increased their roles as sediment sinks while the upper main valley appears to be moving from a notorious sediment source to a steady

state or even a mild sediment sink. The lower main valley continues as

a sediment sink but at much lower rates than earlier. These reaches

are discussed further in later sections. Before discussing the current conditions of the basin, it might be well to discuss the historical and morphological changes which have led up to present conditions in the tributaries and downstream. The basic driver for both the upland and channel erosion was changes of storm ow response, in turn driven by the changes of land use described in Trimble and Lund (1982). Estimates of these hydrologic changes are problematic because the models used are imperfect and the inputs used are uncertain and sometimes assumed, especially for the pre-settlement period. The rst study of these changes was by Kay (1973) who assumed a linear increase from the time of settlement to the 1970s ( Fig. 3 ). Knox et al. (1975) and Knox (1977) also did similar calculations, again assuming a linear increase over the total time of settlement ( Fig. 3). Trimble (1975b) was more concerned with the improvements of land use after the 1930s showing that expected discharges, like soil erosion, had been greatly reduced ( Trimble and Lund, 1982) and Knox (1977) followed suit. Fraczek (1987) also looked at the more recent period and included a hydraulic factor for the gullied landscape which the previous studies had not done. Trimble revised his 1975 estimate using a rill and gully factor ( USDA-SCS, 1985; Trimble, unpublished study) and extended the period back to 1853, the time of settlement in Coon Creek. These studies have different time periods, drainage areas, storm size and duration, and

other assumptions. None is denitive and all are limited, but together they do indicate the general trends of basin storm ow response over the historical period. More recent analyses of accumulated stream ow data show a decided decrease in storm ow response, and as would be expected, an increase of base ow and ow duration ( Potter, 1991; Gebert and Krug, 1996; Krug, 1996).

( Potter, 1991; Gebert and Krug, 1996; Krug, 1996 ). Fig. 3. Estimated peak discharges for

Fig. 3. Estimated peak discharges for Driftless Area streams based on land-use change using varied models. See text for explication and discussion.

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3.1. Tributaries

To place the more subtle changes of the recent period into context, it is useful to review the changes through which tributaries went up to about 1975. Considering the earlier peak ow calculations and the change in erosion rates together with historical reconstructions of stream channels allows a basic understanding of the processes which brought about the changes (Fig. 4). Initial headwater streams were narrow and small (Knox, 1972 ). Tributaries were typically small enough for a person to leap across ( McKelvey, 1939). Under these conditions, oods would be forced to leave the channel and ow across the oodplain. Depths would have been small and vegetational resistance would have meant low velocities. The primeval landscape would have permitted little erosion and sediment so that water density would have been low and dependant primarily on tempera- ture. By about 1900 and after, ooding was increasing with commensurate sediment transport so that oodplains were aggrad- ing, effectively creating larger channels ( Happ et al., 1940). The combination of greater ows, greater depths and higher velocities

would have maximized stream power and enhanced channel erosion, thus placing more storm ow in the channel and further increasing channel erosion. Channels in this bare, eroded state were referred to by Happ et al. (1940) as ume-likebecause of their form and efcient conveyance of water. Tributaries in the region had pebble and cobble beds which were only locally mobile so that channel cutting in most places was lateral. Indeed, the coarse material would have enhanced widening of the stream ( Knox, 1977; Schumm, 1977). Such rapidly eroding reaches with inset coarse point bars were referred to as meander plains( Melton, 1936) and this term was applied to Driftless Area tributaries by Happ et al. (1940) and Happ (1944) . But the widening had a negative feedback: depth and velocity would have been reduced thus reducing stream power. And by the 1950s when storm ow began to abate, stream power was reduced even more. Thus, a thin layer of ne material was deposited on the coarser deposits of the meander plain which gave rise to a grass cover which, in a positive feedback loop, further enhanced deposition from the ever-ameliorating storm ows. This was the condition in which I found the tributaries in 1973 1974 ( Trimble, 1975a,b) and I termed

in 1973 – 1974 ( Trimble, 1975a,b ) and I termed Fig. 4. (A) Schematic model

Fig. 4. (A) Schematic model of changes of historic stream and valley morphology for Coon Creek and other Driftless Area tributaries, 1860 to 1974 (from page 16 of a mimeographed pamphlet by S.W. Trimble for a eld trip to the Driftless Area, April 1975, sponsored by the Association of American Geographers and led by G. Dury, J. C. Knox, W.C. Johnson and S.W. Trimble (Trimble, 1975b ). Lateral migration of the stream is not shown in this model. (B) Changes of stream power and the transformation of stream and valley morphology. This model assumes a constant discharge for each stage. With the small stream channel of stage 1, oods spread out over the oodplain, keeping depth, velocity, and stream power low. With accretion of the oodplain and stream banks with historic sediment in stage 2 (circa 1900), greater ows were restricted to the channel, thus increasing depth, velocity, and stream power so that the channel erosion shown in the 1900 stage (left) must have been very rapid. In stages 3 and 4, the channel erodes laterally, so that oods are spread, with decreases of depth, velocity, and stream power. By the latter stage, ne sediment covered the old gravel meander plains and new oodplains are formed as shown to the left (from presentation to the Association of American Geographers, San Diego, CA, 20 April 1992. Ron Shreve made important suggestions for preparation of this diagram in 1991).

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12 S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 Fig. 5. Numbers of grazing animals

Fig. 5. Numbers of grazing animals 18531970 and grazed forest 19251970 in Vernon County, Wisconsin. Data from U.S. Census of Agriculture.

these transformed meander plains as new oodplainssince their heights appeared to be adjusted to the more moderate stream ow regime ( Trimble, 1975a,b, 1976a,b; Knox, 1977). Indeed, since there was little evidence from hydrological data, I offered them as morphological evidence that storm ows had been ameliorated by land use ( Trimble 1975a,b, 1976a,b ). But force was not the only driver of stream change. As always, geomorphic resistance must be considered and the resistance of stream beds and banks was being reduced by grazing of animals. Trimble (1994) and Trimble and Mendel (1995) have shown how cows can make stream banks much more vulnerable to the forces of erosion. Less is known about the geomorphic effects of sheep and horses but there is no reason to believe that they are any less

destructive to landscapes. Indeed, sheep are known to crop grass much shorter than cows. A reconstruction of animal populations in Vernon County, WI, which covers about 75% of Coon Creek, shows that animal populations peaked in 1900, about the time that tributary channels were destabilizing ( Fig. 5). While animal populations have not declined greatly since 1900, management is much better and reaches of Coon Creek and its tributaries are no longer grazed ( Trimble and Lund, 1982). Of course, grazing animals also increase the force component by damaging upland vegetation and soil fauna, compres- sing the soil, decreasing inltration increasing overland ow and soil erosion, and peak ows in streams ( Trimble and Mendel, 1995). At least some, but probably not all, of that force component was included in the earlier peak ow calculations.

was included in the earlier peak fl ow calculations. Fig. 6. The evolution of tributary stream

Fig. 6. The evolution of tributary stream channels as explained in Figs. 3 and 4 . North Branch, Whitewater River, MN about 2 km west of Elba, MN. For reference, note barn, bridge, and road intersection in all three frames. (1905): Note narrow, apparently deep, stream lined with trees and dense riparian vegetation. (1940): By lateral erosion, stream has widened 2 to 5 times in response to increased storm ow and the supply of abundant bedload from hillside gullies and the eroded stream itself. Low- ow sinuosity has increased greatly but overall, the channel tends towards braided (see also Trimble and Crosson, 2000 ; Fig. 2A). (1976): Stream has again narrowed to similar dimensions as seen in 1905 with dense riparian vegetation.

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The changes described above are illustrated with a remarkable set of time-lapse photos from a tributary of the Whitewater River, Minnesota, a stream generally analogous to Coon Creek ( Fig. 6 ). In the rst frame, the stream is shown in 1905, about 40 years after settlement in that area. Being settled more than a decade after Coon Creek, stream evolution would be expected to lag Coon Creek by a few years ( Trimble, 1993) so the stream is probably moving towards stage 2 by 1905 ( Fig. 4 ) but trees still border the narrow channel. In frame 2 (1940), the stream has been transformed and has clearly progressed to stage 2 or 3 ( Fig. 4) with a broad eroded channel and the cobble meander plain clearly visible. In this particular reach, the combination

of increased ood ows and coarse bedload has created an almost- braided conguration. By 1976 the channel has been transformed again being narrow and is again bordered by trees, signaling more moderate ows and ner sediment. Further upstream, the then- intermittent and ashy streams had trenched into the ume-likecondition described by Happ et al. (1940; Fig. 7). These eroded further, especially laterally, but by the early 1970s when I started my work in the region, the streams had generally stabilized ( Fig. 7 ). The conditions of tributaries have improved since the mid-1970s and, indeed, the old, coarse meander plainsare now often overlain by 1530 cm of ne material. These lower grassed areas are now

30 cm of fi ne material. These lower grassed areas are now Fig. 7. Evolution of

Fig. 7. Evolution of a small tributary, 1940 1976, Beaver Creek, MN about 5 km upstream of Beaver, Whitewater River, MN. (1940): Stream trenched into a ume-like channel as described by Happ et al. (1940) . S.C. Happ points to contact of old mollisol overlain by historical sediment. The vertical channel walls attest to the recent quality of the channel erosion and the large sediment particles suggest the contemporary stream power involved to erode the channel. (1976): The stream continued to erode laterally after 1940 and is now quite sinuous. There are no large sediment particles visible since the older deposits have been covered by silt, now grassed, and no new particles have been washed down from upstream. The scene is typical of such tributaries for the period 19741993 and later (see also Fig. 2 in Trimble and Crosson, 2000).

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considered to be new oodplains set within the high banks of the old covered oodplain. The smaller channel sizes relative to those of he 1930s are considered to be diagnostic of the present moderated hydrologic regime (Trimble, 1975a). The cross sections up to the level of the old oodplain are considered to be a oodway ( Trimble, 1993) so that the old oodplains rarely ood. As previously noted, the period 19751993 featured two oods of at least 100-year magnitude. One of these two events was more local and centered on the headwaters to the east but the greatest stream change was from the basin-wide ood of July 1978. Earlier studies of the region already cited have emphasized the increasingly stable nature of tributaries as the result of greatly improved soil conservation measures with reduced storm response of streams (e.g., Trimble, 1975a, 1976a,b; Knox, 1977). Thus, these two large storms were a test of sorts. In general, the tributaries held reasonably well and did not return to the highly disturbed cobble and gravel roadlook they always had back in the rst half of the 20th century (see also Fig. 2 in Trimble and Crosson, 2000). A second test brought by the storms was that of channel structures. Starting in 1974, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) instituted a program of installing sh shelters along the tributaries of Coon Creek, the structures also being intended make the stream more stable and thus improve trout habitat. These structures comprised a log platform to form the sh shelter, normally set into the cut bank of an outside stream bend. This platform was covered with boulders, then covered with earth and sowed to grass ( Fig. 8 ). Judging from the scientic literature, stream structures have generally not been effective in helping to stabilize streams. But since the later resurveys (c. 1993) encountered stream reaches with and without structures, this provided an opportunity to test the effectiveness of these structures ( Trimble, 1997b). The two diagnostic measures were (i) net annual erosion of channel cross sections and (ii) net annual lateral migration. The results, shown here cartographically, demon- strate little difference between the two conditions ( Fig. 9 ). Statistical analysis, however, demonstrated a small advantage of structures in reducing channel erosion but reduction of channel migration was seemingly evident but not statistically signicant ( Trimble, 1997a,b ). Two points need to be made, however. First, most structures were only

need to be made, however. First, most structures were only Fig. 8. A typical fi sh

Fig. 8. A typical sh shelter built in some reaches of Coon Creek tributaries and elsewhere in the basin. A heavy oak bench is set by the bank, covered with limestone boulders and then soil. The bank is then beveled and planted to grass. Such structures had a mild but statistically signi cant effect in stabilizing streams.

13 years old when subjected to the rst ood and may not have been sufciently hardened.The second point is that Wisconsin sh managers concede that these structures would have not been effective if they had been installed in the early part of the century when ood response of the streams was so great (e.g., David Vetrano, Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources, oral communication, June 2001). That is, while these structures may be able to resist the hydraulic forces of one or two big oods at present, the frequent oods of the earlier period would have eventually destroyed the structures. The overall sediment budget for tributaries was shown in Fig. 2 , but there was considerable variation among pro les. One well- documented example is Bohemian Valley Range 13A ( Fig. 10 ). From 1853 to 1938, the banks were c overed with up to a meter of sediment by vertical accretion but the channel itself was eroded to several times its original size. As noted earlier, the pre-settlement channel size is not known exactly but from the description that a man could leap across ( McKelvey, 1939 ), dimensions of a meter wide and a meter deep were assumed. From 1938 to 1974, the channel eroded laterally, rst about 20 m to the left, then moved about 35 m back to the right, demonstrating the extreme stream forces extant during the early part of that 36-year period. The channel bounded by the eroded high banks of the historic ood plain was, indeed, now so large that the old oodplain had experienced no accretion after 1938 and was thus a new terrace. Indeed, this condition obtained in the whole tributary reach so that measurable vertical accretion occurred on only one of 72 cross sections between 1939 and 1974 ( Trimble, 1976a ). By the time of the 1974 survey, this reach was perfectly stable and the cobbles of the bar had been covered by 3 15 cm of silt with an excellent stand of grass ( Fig. 11 ). As early as 1975, such silt-covered and grassed areas were proposed to be new oodplains diagnostic of the more moderate storm ows of the conservation period ( Trimble 1975a,b, 1976a,b; Knox, 1977 ) but it will be seen in the next two periods (1974 1982 and 1982 1991) that these new oodplains have continued to aggrade by vertical accretion, thus raising the bank, making the channel cross-section larger, and making the morphological determination of bankfull discharge increasingly dif cult. This cross section ( Fig. 10 ) has experienced more accretion than average during recent decades, perhaps because the pro le is located in the downstream reach of Bohemian creek, just upstream from the upper main valley so that backwater effects are possible.

3.2. Upper main valley

The upper main valley has been perhaps the reach of greatest interest but also of greatest concern. It went through changes much like those described for the tributaries, the differences being that sediment sizes rarely exceed sand, stream banks were much higher, and the changes came later. As late as 1940, this reach resembled a ume with the stream owing between high banks which had been raised by the vertical accretion of by up to 3 m of historical alluvium. With the curtailment of upland erosion and the resulting decrease in sediment load, the stream's capacity was increased, allowing increased lateral erosion and retreat of the high banks. But because the storm ow regime had been ameliorated, the new point bar and oodplain built behind the advancing stream was only about half as high as the old historical oodplain built in the rst half of the 20th century ( Figs. 1214). As in the tributaries, the result of this process was the massive downstream export of sediment and the morphologic result was a oodway down the stream and over the new oodplains which could convey most ood ows ( Trimble 1975a, 1976a,b, 1993). Thus, deposition on the old historical oodplain was greatly reduced ( Trimble, 1975a, 1976a,b). Indeed, the old oodplain was now a terrace. The oodway reduced local ooding but the efcient down- stream routing of water may have increased ooding downstream ( Woltemade, 1994; Woltemade and Potter, 1994).

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S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 15 Fig. 9. Changes in tributary channels,

Fig. 9. Changes in tributary channels, 1975 1993, structures versus no structures. (A) Net annual change in channel cross-sectional area. Channels with structures had statistically less erosion; and (B) net annual lateral channel migration. Reduction of migration seemed evident but was not statistically signi cant.

The processes just described for the upper main valley were essentially the same as occurred earlier in the tributaries (see Trimble 1975a,b, 1976a,b, 1983; and Figs. 9.24 and 9.26 in Ward and Trimble, 2004). The same processes are moving downstream but appear to be slowing relative to earlier rates, a process discussed in the next section. As one moves downstream towards the lower main valley where still-aggrading oodplains are lower, the newoodplain appears higher relative to the old oodplain so that the escarpment between the two becomes lower. The downstream end of the upper main valley is where the newoodplain, formed as a bench behind the meander, merges at the same level as the still-aggrading oodplain of the lower main valley ( Fig. 15). Like the tributaries in the earlier period c. 19201950, the upper main valley was a prolic net source of downstream sediment for the period c. 19501980. In the 1970s, this reach was still losing sediment at a very high rate and it looked as though it would continue for centuries until the historical alluvium (high banks) was removed.

Indeed, I forecast that this erosion might not only furnish sediment for centuries but might actually result in unit sediment yield increasing downstream, giving a sediment delivery ratio greater than 1.0 ( Trimble, 1981, 1983). But as the cut banks retreated and the new oodplains expanded, the area for vertical accretion was expanded thus promoting deposition and creating a morphology-based negative feedback. I also did not realize that the new oodplains were not yet at their true channel-forming or effective-ow height. Thus, they have continued to aggrade by vertical accretion over the period since then and, indeed, still appear to be accreting. Thus, local accretion was tending to offset, at least to some degree, the loss of sediment by erosion of the high banks. By the early 1990s, I had enough data to realize what was happening and devised a model to show the feedback function of expanded depositional surface of the new oodplains ( Fig. 14 ). Only after the 1991 1995 surveys were complete was it clear that the upper middle valley reach was past stage 3 and nearing stage 4 as depicted in

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16 S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 Fig. 10. Evolution of tributary cross-section,

Fig. 10. Evolution of tributary cross-section, Bohemian Valley Range 13R., approximately 4 km northeast of Coon Valley, WI. While part of the 1853 prole is based on the old mollisol, part is informed conjecture. The 1938 prole shows about 1 m of historical sediment on the old oodplain and the channel had eroded to the point that the old covered oodplain had become a terrace. By 1974, the stream had moved laterally, taking out a large (20 m) section of the old oodplain (see Fig. 11 for photo). After 1974, the primary process was the vertical accretion of the new oodplain with ne sediment.

Fig. 14. In the last report on Coon Creek ( Trimble, 1999), I thought it prudent to retract my earlier statements about future centuries of erosion from this reach and state that the reach may no longer be a great net exporter of sediment. During a eld excursion in 2005, it was suggested to me that the planform of this reach with cut banks often at the outside radius of the curve would bias the samples I was getting from my surveys ( Fig. 12). That is, the ratio of eroding land to accreting land might be greater than my calculations would indicate (Wes Lauer, University of Minnesota, oral communication, Oct. 2005). Early in the Coon Creek study I had realized the hydrologic importance of the new oodways and the sediment source potential of the upper main valley, so starting in 1978 and continuing to the present, I have mapped long sections of this reach in detail (e.g., Fig. 12). Using these large-scale maps, I was able to draw isopachs of sediment depths and remeasure changes in this reach. However, they were not signicantly different from my earlier published values so no revision is possible. That is, my earlier predictions of future net sediment loss over centuries from this reach still appear to be wrong, at least based on the present evidence.

3.3. Lower main valley

The lower main valley remains primarily a net sediment sink. While the average vertical accretion for this reach in the 1920s and 30s was extremely high, being about 15 cm/year ( Trimble and Lund, 1982; Trimble, 1983) the mean for 1975 1993 was only 0.53 cm/year, but this gure was reduced somewhat by channel erosion induced, at least in part, by afforestation of stream banks ( Trimble, 1997a). The present rate from surveys is slightly higher than that suggested by Fig. 7C in Trimble (1983) but that estimate was based on dendrochronology and other short-term measures. Additionally, the present measured rates include the oods of 1978 and 1987 and the very wet spring of 1993. A typical prole is Coon Valley Range 27 (Fig. 16). Note that the bed, banks, and oodplain have all aggraded. This study has depended on fully surveyed transverse proles. The utility of these full proles as compared to coring and some stratigraphic dating methods (e.g., 137 Cs) is demonstrated in Fig. 16. Five locations along the pro le were randomly selected and a simulated chronology was constructed for each based on the data from the surveyed prole as though a core had been extracted and

surveyed pro fi le as though a core had been extracted and Fig. 11. Photo made

Fig. 11. Photo made along the axis of Bohemian Range 13R, 1974. The xmarks where the toe of the cut bank stood in 1938.

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S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 17 Fig. 12. An example of detailed

Fig. 12. An example of detailed plane-table mapping of an eroding reach (the Marshal Reach ) of the upper main valley, approximately 4 km northwest of Coon Valley, WI, showing the network of interconnected proles all set on MSL datum. Historical sediment covered the old oodplain to a depth of about 23 m. According to air photos and S.C. Happ (oral communication), this reach was ume-like in 1940 and had only moderate sinuosity. Lateral erosion removed large sections of the old historical oodplain and replaced it with the new, lower oodplain. Inset prole is Range C. See Fig. 13 for photo.

sequential dates had been established. These are then compared to the

mean chronology as established by the full prole itself. What the simulations suggest is that there is much more variance inherent in corings compared with full proles as used in this study. They also suggest that the variation is greater for shorter time periods and/or for lesser depths. Dating of oodplain accretion sequences from limited borings can lead to questionable notions such as that of Knox who suggests that each of a few individual large oodsbetween 1950 and

1954 deposited blankets of 1525 cm of sediment across the valley

oor(Knox, 2001). The period 19741978 includes the 100-year ood of 1978 and the variance of deposition depth and rates, mainly from the

1978 event, are clearly shown, the rates varying from 0 to 3 cm/year.

The thicker deposits were primarily sand splays, so commonly seen with accelerated sedimentation ( Happ et al., 1940 ). Individual measures like cores, whether related to erosion or accretion, tend to demonstrate high variance and should be used only with a large sample and error analysis ( Trimble, 1975d; Rommens et al., 2006).

Given that this reach is aggrading, suggesting a surplus of sediment and lack of excess energy, it might be surprising to know that many short reaches are migrating laterally quite rapidly. While the stream at Range 27 moved laterally only about 12 m in 65 years, a meander loop about 80 m downstream has migrated about 30 m in 30 years ( Fig. 17 ). Unlike the morphology with lateral migration upstream in tributaries and the upper main valley, the point bar here is built up to about the same level as the cut bank and both banks continue to slowly aggrade. Indeed, this is the major reason that the meander beltcan intrude only slowly into the Lower Main Valley. That is, the bank height is by denition the aggrading oodplain (here, the natural levee). So although some reaches here are actively meandering, there can be no inset surfaces as seen in the upstream reaches. Citing Knox (1987), Woltemade (1994) ascribes the lack of a meander plain in the Lower Main Valley to a lack of stream power but that clearly cannot be the case since the stream is actively meandering. The point upstream where the existing eroding banks are higher than the presently-

18

S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 823

18 S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 Fig. 13. Photo across the Marshall

Fig. 13. Photo across the Marshall Reach showing Range C in inset, Fig. 12. The man on the right stands on remnant of old Pleistocene terrace at the end of Range C. Man on the left stands at water's edge on Range C.

forming oodplain is the lower end of the meander plain, and, by denition, the upper main valley. Or expressed another way, the lower end of the meander plain is where the new oodplain is built up to at least the level of the old historic oodplain. It will be observed that for the period 1975 1993, the natural levees close to the banks appear to be accreting more rapidly than distal backswamp areas of the oodplain. This trend appears throughout the reach. The perception was strengthened by the fact

that during the 19911995 surveys the backswamps were much wetter than in the c. 1975 surveys so that survey passage on foot was much more difcult and almost impossible in some cases. In 1993, this condition came in part from excess rain but the more general problem was that higher levees blocked drainage of the backswamps allowing them to become deeper. That is, it is more difcult for the water from springs and small streams to reach the main stream so that it must ow parallel to Coon Creek as a Yazoo stream until it can make its way

to Coon Creek as a Yazoo stream until it can make its way Fig. 14. Transformation

Fig. 14. Transformation of the upper main valley morphology and accompanying changes of the sediment budget (redrawn from Trimble, 1993 ).

S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 823

19

S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 19 Fig. 15. Near the downstream end

Fig. 15. Near the downstream end of the upper main valley de ned by the new oodplain, inset within the meander plain, merging into the old aggrading oodplain. In this scene, about 5 km downstream from Coon Valley, Wisconsin, the toe of the escarpment between the new and old oodplain is shown by the dashed line. Only about 30 cm separate the two surfaces here whereas the elevation difference several km upstream at the Marshall Reach ( Fig. 12) is 2 3 m.

into the main stream. Of course, streambeds and water levels are also raised so that streams are almost superposed above the distal oodplain in some places. Differential vertical accretion rates between banks and distal ood plains for 15 proles in this reach are shown in Table 1. For the banks, the measurement was made at the highest point on each bank. For the distal oodplain, the measurement was made at the lowest point. The overall mean rate for banks 1975 1993 was 0.63 cm/year but for distal oodplains, it was only 0.42 cm/year. It would have been useful to measure the rates of streambeds and water levels but both have so much variance in space and time that they are very difcult to measure with any dependability. The changes in water levels shown in Table 1 suggest that they were rising faster than the banks but the values are largely artifacts of surveying both during high and low ow events with the wet, very high base ow year of 1993 predominating. Actually, stream water levels have probably risen in general accord with the bank heights but that relationship is not certain. A test for statistical signicance was conducted by grouping all bankand all distal ood plainvalues and subjecting them to a difference of means test. They were different at the 0.05 signicance level, so I conclude that the banks of the lower main valley are indeed aggrading more rapidly than the distal oodplains. The explanation for these differential accretion rates appears to be quite straightforward. The stream bed is composed largely of sand, and during ood events, this sand is transported overbank where hydraulic resistance is high because of dense vegetation so that much of the sand is immediately deposited. Evidence for this is the percentage of the sand often found along the natural levees. As suggested earlier, sand tends to be deposited in irregular splays, accounting in part for the variance among the accretion measure- ments. Because upland erosion is so greatly curtailed, there is less silt in the main channel to be transported in suspension to the distal oodplains. Moreover, the small tributaries entering directly onto the oodplain are also transporting little sediment so that there is less material available for accretion. One can compare this with the 1930s when the main stream and the tributaries were transporting much ne sediment and the distal oodplains were aggrading almost as fast as the banks ( Fig. 16). However, reconnaissance and detailed surveys

directly after the 100-year ood of 4 July 1978 showed splays of sand on levees and even on distal oodplains. The source of the channel sand is also of interest. While the system appears to be receiving much less sediment from the uplands than in the 1930s, Coon Creek and its tributaries have been reworking earlier channel and bank deposits as described earlier in this paper. This appears to entail a sorting process whereby ne material is transported further, some perhaps out of the system, but the sand is left as lag deposits. The sand is moved downstream at a slower rate and some of it may be deposited on banks as just described, but much is transported downstream further aggrading channels. Many examples could be given in the region but the situation at Arcadia Wisconsin, on the Trempeleau River about 100 km north of Coon Creek is illustrative ( Trimble, 1993). There, migrating sediment from local tributaries similar to Coon Creek has moved into the Trempeleau River, but the ner material has moved on leaving the sand as lag deposits. Aggradation of the Trempeleau River and its local tributaries has raised ground-water levels in the city so that, by the 1980s, basements were becoming wet or ooded. The only solution for amelioration was to pump sand from the streambed downstream of Arcadia thus lowering the stream, at least temporarily. Observation suggested that forested reaches in the lower main valley had a larger cross-sectional area than grass-covered ones. Four reaches, each with long-term grassed and forested subreaches were examined in great detail ( Trimble, 1997a, 2004; see also Lyons et al., 2000 for benthological implications). Grassed reaches were narrower and had smaller channels than forested reaches, suggesting that grassed channel reaches stored about 2100 to 8800 m 3 more sediment per kilometer than forested reaches. Since many reaches of the lower main valley have reverted from grass to forest over recent decades, it seems reasonable to assume that riparian afforestation has caused the loss of sediment from the reach and thereby decreased the overall accretion rate in the lower main valley.

4. Spatial and chronological distribution of alluviated area

Earlier studies of Coon Creek have shown the spatial distributions of sediment volumes over time ( Trimble, 1976a; Trimble, 1993). With

20

S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 823

20 S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 Fig. 16. Floodplain accretion and accretion

Fig. 16. Floodplain accretion and accretion rates at Range CV 27, approximately 3 km downstream from Chaseburg, WI. The actual proles for 1853, 1938, 1974, 1978, and 1992 are shown at the bottom. Five locations along the prole were selected and a simulated chronology was constructed for each based on the data from the surveyed proles as though a core had been extracted and the sedimentary unit dates had been established. For comparison, the mean shows the rates as determined from the surveyed proles.

the foregoing processes, morphologies, and sediment budgets in mind, it is now possible to show the areal distribution of alluviation in Coon Creek over the historical period ( Fig. 18). As agriculture began and expanded, stream response and sediment loads increased thus increasing alluviation of the functional oodplains of that period ( Fig. 18). That is, all active oodplains in the basin were being covered by vertical accretion. As aggradation continued, stream terraces then

became more vulnerable to ooding and sedimentation so that the area of alluviation increased as a step function as successive terraces were covered. Since this cannot be shown by maps at the small scale permitted here, area itself is graphically shown in Fig. 18B. By the 1938 surveys, all potentially oodable terraces were being reached by oods although not all parts of terraces showed measurable accretion. An example is Coon Valley Range 28, about 0.5 km downstream of

S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 823

21

S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 21 Fig. 17. Meander loop looking downstream

Fig. 17. Meander loop looking downstream approximately 80 m downstream of Range CV 27 which has migrated about 30 m laterally since 1974. Note that advancing point bar is accreted to the same elevation as the retreating cut bank/oodplain. This entire reach of several hundred meters is rapidly migrating, and a meander neck just to near side of the trees in the foreground is only a few meters wide. There exists the possibility of a meander cut-off here in the near future.

Range 27 ( Fig. 19). Here, the original oodplain was relatively narrow (~100 m) and was anked by a 4 m high stream terrace on which a railroad embankment had been constructed in 1904. At CV 30, 1.6 km further downstream, the oodplain had aggraded only 0.75 m by 1904 so it would appear unlikely that this high terrace would ever have been ooded at this time. By 1938, however, the oodplain had aggraded to the level of the old high terrace and despite the partial diking effect of the railroad embankment, the lower part of the terrace was already being covered by historical sediment. While the old historical oodplains were being aggraded, channel and bank erosion was beginning in the tributaries ( Figs. 4, 6, 7, and 10), but most of the old tributary oodplains were still being ooded and aggraded as late as the 1938 surveys. But with the rapid bank erosion of that time, historical oodplains were quickly becoming terraces so that vertical accretion was halted ( Fig. 18, 19381975) so that the old meander plains became the new, lower oodplains. Again, this occurred not only with the expansion of the new oodway, but

Table 1 Differential accretion, natural levees and distal oodplains, lower main valley, Coon Creek, Wisconsin, (1975 1993, cm).

Range

Left f.p.

Left bk

Water level

Right bk

Right f.p.

25A

30

24

42

25R

15

15

72

9

6

26

15

15

18

9

27

18

21

12

27

18

28

3

9

78

9

6

29

15

15

15

15

6

30R

6

3

33

6

6

30(0)

9

0

0

6

0

31

18

15

9

12

6

33

0

15

9

9

33b

0

6

33

0

0

36

9

9

60

36R

0

9

6

9

12

38

15

15

15

Mean

10.6

12.0

15.9

10.6

7.5

   

Mean rate of all natural levees (banks): 0.63 cm/year. Mean rate of all oodplains: 0.42 cm/year.

 

also because stream storm ow peaks were ameliorated. As explained earlier, expansion of the new oodway has been moving downstream so that the upstream-most point of historical oodplain alluviation moved downstream about 67 km during the period 19751993 ( Fig. 18B). The downstream movement can be expected to continue its downstream movement but at a much lower rate. Whether this slowing is a function of decreasing slope, or decreasing storm ow response, or both, is uncertain. What will happen upstream is also uncertain, largely because of human intervention. If natural processes had been allowed to continue, it seems likely that oodway expansion would have continued for a long time into the future, but as explained earlier, bank protection structures were installed in the tributaries by governmental agencies starting in the mid-1970s. Largely after the 1993 surveys, bank structures were also increasingly installed in the upper main valley. With the eventual cessation of bank erosion there, and given the rate of vertical accretion on the low oodplains, it is fair to wonder if the old historical oodplains may again be ooded in the future. Moreover, the building of stream stabilization structures by governmental agencies progresses downstream so that the down- stream expansion of the oodway may be totally halted. And with that, the whole Coon Creek study as originally envisioned will be effectively ended also because the full gamut of natural stream processes is no longer allowed to operate.

5. Conclusions and prognosis

Sediment budget processes in Coon Creek from 1975 to 1993 changed only moderately, generally continuing the trends that were evident in 1975. The most important of these continued trends is that the modest but constant sediment yield to the Mississippi River appears to be unabated, the result of storage removal primarily by bank erosion. The major revision from earlier studies is that the upper main valley is a less signicant source of sediment and my earlier prognostications of it being a future sediment source may be wrong. Perturbations have been caused by changes of riparian vegetation, but more signicantly, by the introduction of sh shelter structures and protected cut banks along the stream system reaching downstream to the end of the upper main valley. Because these structures do not

22

S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 823

22 S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 Fig. 18. Allocation of alluvial land

Fig. 18. Allocation of alluvial land in time and space. (A) Aggrading historical oodplains, 1853 1993. (B) Change of alluvial land classi cation, 1853 to present, the most salient point being the transformation of old historical oodplains to new terraces as the result of channel erosion.

permit natural steam migration, bank erosion and downstream sediment transfer, the Coon Creek basin has lost much of its suitability as a natural laboratory of uvial processes.

Acknowledgements

I thank John Boardman (Oxford), Tom Dunne (California Santa Barbara), Robert Meade (USGS), Olav Slaymaker (British Columbia),

Desiree Tullos (Oregon State), Gert Verstraeten (Leuven), and Des Walling (Exeter) for the critical reviews of the paper. Ron Shreve advised on the stream power evolution ( Fig. 4 A) and David Rigby advised on the statistical tests. Chase Langford produced the excellent gures. I am grateful to Edmund Brick, Jennie Trimble, Alicia Trimble Gordon, Jon Carson, and Paul Price for the eld assistance. The National Geographic Society, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation

S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 823

23

S.W. Trimble / Geomorphology 108 (2009) 8 – 23 23 Fig. 19. Pro fi les of

Fig. 19. Proles of Range CV 28 (0.5 km downstream from Range CV 27) showing the burial of a high terrace.

Service, and UCLA Faculty Senate provided the funding and/or other logistical services.

References

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