Reservoirs provide the opportunity to link watershed history with its stratigraphic record. We analyze sediment cores from a northern California reservoir in the context of hydrologic history, watershed management, and depositional processes. Observations of recent depositional patterns, sediment-transport calculations, and 137CS geochronology support a conceptual model in which the reservoir delta progrades during floods of short duration (days) and is modified during prolonged (weeks to months) drawdowns that rework topset beds and transport sand from topsets to foresets. Sediment coarser than 0.25-0.5 mm. deposits in foresets and topsets, and finer material falls out of suspension as bottomset beds. Simple hydraulic calculations indicate that fine sand (0.063-0.5 mm) is transported into the distal bottomset area only during floods. The overall stratigraphy suggests that two phases of delta building occurred in the reservoir. The first, from dam construction in 1940 to 1970, was heavily influenced by annual, prolonged >20 m drawdowns of the water level. The second, built on top of the first, reflects sedimentation from 1970 to 2002 when the influence of drawdowns was less. Sedimentation rates in the central part of the reservoir have declined ???25% since 1970, likely reflecting a combination of fewer large floods, changes in watershed management, and winnowing of stored hydraulic mining sediment. Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Reconstructing depositional processes and history from reservoir stratigraphy: Englebright Lake, Yuba River, northern California