On October 11 – 13, the 50th Binghamton Geomorphology Symposium was held at Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado. It’s theme was “The BGS: 50 years of Enhancing Geomorphology”. Given the historic anniversary, there were many different speakers with various topics but with the theme of “looking back and looking forward”. Speakers many geomorphologists such as Vic Baker, Ellen Wohl, Andrew Goudie, Dick Marston, Janet Hooke, and Heather Viles. UO River Group member Mark Fonstad spoke on the topic of “The Camera and the Geomorphologist”. The meeting was complemented with a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Link: https://sites.msudenver.edu/jjanke1/
The NSF-EAGER program has recently funded the project “Next-Generation Riverscape Mapping and Monitoring” for $300,000. This project is lead by Co-PI Mark Fonstad and River Group alumnus James Dietrch (UNI), and is being primarily managed by postdoctoral scholar Aaron Zettler-Mann. The goals of the project are to develop and test new river monitoring and mapping approaches that can map riverwide variables at high resolution with open or off-the-shelf tools at relatively low cost and reduced labor. The project is focusing on instrument suites on two different platforms — our research cataraft as well as a new open-source drone boat that can be operated by remote control or can be pulled behind another boat.
On Saturday (4/20) a few members of the river research group and some other graduate students spent the day picking up trash along the Willamette River. The event, Clean Water for Great Brews was organized by Willamette Riverkeeper. We got to float the Willamette River in the Geography Department cataraft and stop to pick up trash along the way, and with recent high water there was certainly plenty of trash. Between the one-the-water pick up crews and the hiking pick up crews we removed more than 5000 lbs of trash from around 7 miles of river in Eugene.
Devon and Bianca with some of the trash the cataraft carried out.
The river group has had a busy past year, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it given our absence in posting about it! Below we highlight some of the most major achievements and trips over the past year.
Pat McDowell receives Melvin G. Marcus Distinguished Career Award at AAG 2018
Our own Pat McDowell was awarded the Melvin G. Marcus Distinguished Career Award from the Geomorphology Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers at the 2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA. See the story from UO geography at this link:
Dr. McDowell received Melvin G. Marcus Distinguished Career Award at AAG
River Group McKenzie River Geomorphology Trip in Fall 2018
Many members of our river group took a weekend driving up and down the McKenzie River valley and its tributaries to discuss the geomorphology of the western cascades and view stage 0 river restoration efforts on tributaries such as Deer Creek.
Swagata Goswami defends Ph.D. dissertation in winter 2019
Swagata returned to Eugene after working remotely the last couple years to defend her dissertation regarding the hydrological and geomorphological impacts of infrastructure built on mega alluvial fans in India. Congratulations, Dr. Goswami!
Strong River Group Showing at River Restoration Northwest 2019
Several river group members attended the 2019 annual River Restoration Northwest conference in Stevenson, WA. Both present river group member Aaron Zettler-Mann and alumni Polly Lind shared their research related to river restoration theory and practice.
Regular contributor to Eugene Weekly, Robert Warren, starts off last week’s column by asking “What’s your favorite place?” a question inspired by Shaul Cohen’s introductory Geography course. As he proceeds, Warren discusses how various courses he has audited in his retirement have inspired him. In particular, he cites our own Pat McDowell’s “Watershed Science and Policy” course which I (Matthew Goslin) have been assisting the past 3 years. It’s great to see such a dedicated, always creative and evolving teacher like Pat get some fun recognition. I’ve been reading Warren’s columns in the EW regularly these past few years and didn’t realize he was the gentleman sitting in on the courses we’d been teaching, including our recent geomorphology course. I hope he enjoyed it as much as Watershed Science and Policy!
My Favorite Place
This past August, three of us (Mark Fonstad, Aaron Zettler-Mann, and James Major) spent three days on the lower Sandy River between Mt. Hood and Portland. We were performing an experiment: how many river miles is it possible to float in a few days while at the same time flying a drone to collect very high resolution imagery from which channel sediment data and morphology can be extracted? We took the department’s cataraft, and while it is the ideal platform for this kind of work, the water levels in the Sandy River were low, and there was a fair amount of boat-dragging necessary. Nevertheless, we were able to cover about 40 km in those three days, and we collected 2-cm resolution imagery over almost every river bar along this section of the river. The Sandy River is geomorphically highly active, and is well known for the Marmot Dam removal higher in the watershed several years ago.
PhD Student Aaron Zettler-Mann has received a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation. Aaron’s dissertation is entitled “Lateral Channel Confinement and its Impact on Channel Morphology”, and this grant (for $15,912) will allow Aaron to conduct fieldwork and analysis of the Rogue River and the influence of lateral sediment supply on channel morphology. Aaron has extensive experience on extracting 3D data and orthophotographs from imagery, and these skills will allow him to produce sediment maps throughout the river system through automated feature extraction from imagery techniques. Aaron hopes to test the applicability of the sediment links theory concept to the Rogue River and extend the concept to sediment sources from hillslopes in addition to the traditional tributary sources. Aaron’s advisor is Mark Fonstad.
This summer Aaron Zettler-Mann conducted the first of two years of National Science Foundation funded dissertation work on the Rogue River in southern Oregon. Aaron is taking a riverscapes approach to examine how lateral channel constrictions such as roads, railroads, levees and bridge abutments impact channel morphology variables, including channel width, depth and the particle size distribution of river bars. This field work will also be used to further test the “Sediment Links” theory which suggests that patterns in channel width, depth and grain size are linked to the presence of tributaries. Field work for Aaron consisted of rafting over 60 kilometers, taking photographs from UAVs and a camera-on-a-pole of gravel bars, photographing the river banks and measuring channel depth. Below, pictures from the Rogue River. Clockwise from upper left: black bear sightings, UAV based image acquisition in the Recreation Section, battery charging and swimming at camp, camera-on-a-pole image acquisition in the Wild and Scenic section, on the water, and (center) gravel bar orthophoto ready for particle size distribution mapping.
In early June, doctoral candidate Aaron Zettler-Mann and recent baccalaureate graduate James Major spent three days flying a UAV on the Middle Fork of the John Day. The object of the project was to produce an orthophotograph of floodplain vegetation along a 2.5 kilometer by 0.5 kilometer section of the Middle Fork Valley Floor. The orthophoto will be used to map distinct vegetation species on the floodplain, with species identification occurring in the field. The resulting floodplain vegetation maps will be compared to previous field surveys of floodplain vegetation dating back as far as 1996. Additionally, this map will serve as baseline vegetation data going forward. Active channel restoration occurred beginning in July of 2017 and the vegetation map will allow future monitoring of floodplain vegetation communities which are a good indicator of changes to ground water flow. Below, the orthophoto compose for the study area and some pictures from the ground of vegetation and floodplain terrain.