The drainage basins upstream from Loch Lomond, a water-supply reservoir on Newell Creek, and a proposed reservoir site on Zayante Creek were investigated for their characteristics with respect to the erosion, transportation, and deposition of sediment. The study area is underlain predominantly by sandstone, siltstone, and shale of Tertiary age that decompose readily into moderately deep soils, friable colluvium, and easily transported sediment particles. The Rices Mudstone and Twobar, Shale Members of the San Lorenzo Formation of Brabb (1964) underlie steep dip slopes in the study area, and probably are the most highly erodible of the several geologic units present there. However, nearly all of the geologic units have shown a propensity for accelerated erosion accompanying the disturbance of the land surface by the roadbuilding practices that predominate over other types of sediment-producing land-use activities in the study area.
Sediment transport in the study area was estimated from (1) a reservoir survey of Loch Lomond in 1971 that was compared with a preconstruction survey of 1960, and (2) sampling of sediment transported in suspension by Zayante Creek during the 1970 and 1971 water years. At least 46 acre-feet of sediment accumulated in Loch Lomond in a 10-year period, and an unmeasured quantity of very fine sediment in the form of a thin layer over much of the reservoir bottom was observed. The measured quantity of deposited sediment in a 10-year period represented a sediment yield of about 1,100 tons annually per square mile of drainage basin upstream from the reservoir arms where the major deposition occurred. This sediment occupied less than i percent of the original capacity of Loch Lomond, but the volume of measured sediment deposition is probably conservative in view of the unmeasured deposits observed and a reservoir trap efficiency of about 95 percent.
Sediment sampling on Zayante Creek indicated suspended-sediment yields of about 4,570 and 570 tons per square mile for the 1970 and 1971 water years. These values were considered excessive with respect to the relatively low flows during which they were measured, and probably reflect the intensive and current roadbuilding practices in the central and upstream parts of the Zayante Creek drainage in the study area.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Erosion processes, fluvial sediment transport, and reservoir sedimentation in a part of the Newell and Zayante Creek basins, Santa Cruz County, California
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Geological Survey, Water Resources Division,