Recent sediment studies refute Glen Canyon Dam Hypothesis


  • David M. Rubin,

    1. U.S. Geological Survey, Pacific Science Center, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • David J. Topping,

  • John C. Schmidt,

  • Joe Hazel,

  • Matt Kaplinski,

  • Theodore S. Melis


Recent studies of sedimentology hydrology, and geomorphology indicate that releases from Glen Canyon Dam are continuing to erode sandbars and beaches in the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park, despite attempts to restore these resources. The current strategy for dam operations is based on the hypothesis that sand supplied by tributaries of the Colorado River downstream from the dam will accumulate in the channel during normal dam operations and remain available for restoration floods. Recent work has shown that this hypothesis is false, and that tributary sand inputs are exported downstream rapidly typically within weeks or months under the current flow regime.