2010 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (31 October –3 November 2010)
417 Wednesday, 3 November 2010
8:00 AM-5:00 PM, Colorado Convention Center: Lobby E

Kirk Bryan Fieldtrip: Historical Range of Variability in the Colorado Rockies

Primary Leader: Ellen Wohl
Leader(s): Sara L. Rathburn
Field Trip Description: The concept of historical range of variability (HRV) has been used to characterize the natural or background variability in geomorphic systems in the absence of intensive human impacts. The relevance of this approach has recently been called into question, given the extent and intensity of human impacts to landscapes and the difficulty of returning to natural or reference conditions, as well as the existence of climate change. During this field trip, we will visit and discuss sites in Rocky Mountain National Park where resource managers are using HRV to restore geomorphic processes and forms altered during the past two centuries. We will visit Beaver Meadows, where the National Park Service is trying to reestablish beaver populations, and the Lawn Lake alluvial fan, where a dam failure flood in 1982 altered valley-bottom processes and forms. We will also discuss research being conducted in other portions of the park (the Upper Colorado River valley following the 2003 failure of a portion of the Grand Ditch, and the upper North St. Vrain Creek drainage south of Long’s Peak as a result of tree die-off from pine beetles) in connection with HRV and restoration. Our intent is to facilitate discussions concerning (1) when the concepts of HRV and reference conditions are useful; (2) the limitations on this usefulness; and (3) how geomorphologists and Quaternary geologists can contribute to restoration efforts based on their knowledge of HRV.
Field Trip will span: 1 day
Sponsor(s): Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division

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