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Monitoring fine-sediment volume in the Colorado River ecosystem, Arizona: construction and analysis of digital elevation models

March 27, 2014

Digital elevation models (DEMs) of eleven 2–5 kilometer reaches of the Colorado River ecosystem (CRE) in Grand Canyon were constructed from repeat bathymetric and topographic surveys collected between August 2000 and December 2004. The DEMs will be used by researchers to study the effects of Glen Canyon Dam (GCD) operations on the sediment resources of the CRE in Grand Canyon by quantifying morphological changes and sediment transfer within and among the study reaches.

Airborne surveys collected light detection and ranging (lidar) and photogrammetric data, whereas ground topographic and bathymetric data were collected simultaneously on river trips. Surveys were conducted in August 2000, September 2000, May 2002, May 2004, November 2004, and December 2004. The aerial lidar and photogrammetric data were merged with the ground topographic and bathymetric data to create DEMs of the study areas with a grid resolution of 1 meter. For each survey period, the vertical component of uncertainty (specifically, reproducibility or precision) was estimated for each data type (lidar/photogrammetry, ground surveys, bathymetry) and for two different types of bed-surface texture (smooth and rough).

The resulting DEMs from this study are a valuable contribution to ongoing efforts in assessing the effects of GCD operations on the CRE. The DEMs can be used to map the spatial characteristics of geomorphic change within the study reaches and to estimate sediment budgets for different time periods by calculating the difference in sediment volume between surveys. In addition, the DEMs provide essential boundary conditions for numerical models of sediment transport and deposition, as well as help define the spatial distribution of habitat for fisheries investigations.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Monitoring fine-sediment volume in the Colorado River ecosystem, Arizona: construction and analysis of digital elevation models
DOI 10.3133/ofr20141052
Authors Matt Kaplinski, Joseph E. Hazel, Paul E. Grams, Philip A. Davis
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2014-1052
Index ID ofr20141052
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center