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Geomorphology and Fluvial Startigraphy of the Lower Colorado River: Daniel Malmon

Project Title: Geomorphology and Fluvial Stratigraphy of the Lower Colorado River
Mendenhall Fellow: Daniel Malmon, (650) 329-4934,
Duty Station: Menlo Park, CA
Start Date: November 1, 2004
Education: Ph.D., Geology, University of California Santa Barbara, 2002
Research Advisor: Keith Howard, (650) 329-4943,
      David Malmon

Project Description: The Colorado River drains most of the American Southwest, including large portions of the Rocky Mountains, Great Basin, and practically all of the Colorado Plateau. Landscape changes in the Colorado River watershed – induced by climatic, tectonic, or human factors – result in changes in the amount and character of the sediment delivered to the river system, as well as the volume and timing of flow available to transport this load. Such changes often result in imbalances in the sediment budget of the river, leading to deposition or erosion of sediment along the valley floor. Fluvial deposits along the Colorado River below Grand Canyon contain valuable information about the nature and timing of, and the river’s response to, important events in the geologic and human history of the watershed, including: the carving of Grand Canyon, Pleistocene climate change in the Rocky Mountains and in the semiarid southwest, and the construction of multiple very large dams in the past century.

The purpose of this project is to begin to systematically describe and decipher modern and ancient sedimentary deposits along the lower Colorado River, in order to: (1) better constrain the nature and timing of events in the watershed; (2) document how the river responds to various natural and anthropogenic forcings; and (3) help develop conceptual and predictive models of fluvial sediment transport and storage processes that can be used to help guide decision-making in the Colorado and other large rivers.

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Last modified: 16:08:30 Thu 13 Dec 2012