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Open-File Report 2014–1019

Seismic Profile Analysis of Sediment Deposits in Brownlee and Hells Canyon Reservoirs Near Cambridge, Idaho

By James Flocks, Kyle Kelso, Ryan Fosness, Chris Welcker

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (2.03 MB)Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, in cooperation with the USGS Idaho Water Science Center and the Idaho Power Company, collected high-resolution seismic reflection data in the Brownlee and Hells Canyon Reservoirs, in March of 2013.These reservoirs are located along the Snake River, and were constructed in 1958 (Brownlee) and 1967 (Hells Canyon). The purpose of the survey was to gain a better understanding of sediment accumulation within the reservoirs since their construction. The chirp system used in the survey was an EdgeTech Geo-Star Full Spectrum Sub-Bottom (FSSB) system coupled with an SB-424 towfish with a frequency range of 4 to 24 kHz. Approximately 325 kilometers of chirp data were collected, with water depths ranging from 0-90 meters. These reservoirs are characterized by very steep rock valley walls, very low flow rates, and minimal sediment input into the system. Sediments deposited in the reservoirs are characterized as highly fluid clays. Since the acoustic signal was not able to penetrate the rock substrate, only the thin veneer of these recent deposits were imaged. Results from the seismic survey indicate that throughout both of the Brownlee and Hells Canyon reservoirs the accumulation of sediments ranged from 0 to 2.5 m, with an average of 0.5 m. Areas of above average sediment accumulation may be related to lower slope, longer flooding history, and proximity to fluvial sources.

First posted May 5, 2014

For additional information, contact:
St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
600 4th Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 502–8000

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Suggested citation:

Flocks, James, Kelso, Kyle, Fosness, Ryan, and Welcker, Chris, 2014, Seismic profile analysis of sediment deposits in Brownlee and Hells Canyon Reservoirs near Cambridge, Idaho: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1019, 14 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)





Data Interpretation



References Cited

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