Channel and floodplain change analysis over a 100-year period: Lower Yuba River, California

S. Ghoshal, L.A. James, Michael B. Singer, R. Aalto

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    Hydraulic gold mining in the Sierra Nevada, California (1853–1884) displaced ~1.1 billion m3 of sediment from upland placer gravels that were deposited along piedmont rivers below dams where floods can remobilize them. This study uses topographic and planimetric data from detailed 1906 topographic maps, 1999 photogrammetric data, and pre- and post-flood aerial photographs to document historic sediment erosion and deposition along the lower Yuba River due to individual floods at the reach scale. Differencing of 3 × 3-m topographic data indicates substantial changes in channel morphology and documents 12.6 × 106 m3 of erosion and 5.8 × 106 m3 of deposition in these reaches since 1906. Planimetric and volumetric measurements document spatial and temporal variations of channel enlargement and lateral migration. Over the last century, channels incised up to ~13 m into mining sediments, which dramatically decreased local flood frequencies and increased flood conveyance. These adjustments were punctuated by event-scale geomorphic changes that redistributed sediment and associated contaminants to downstream lowlands.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1797-1825
    JournalRemote Sensing
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2010


    • Fluvial geomorphology
    • Change detection
    • Channel migration
    • DEM differencing
    • Hydraulic mining sediment
    • Floodplain morphology


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