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Hydrologic reconnaissance of the Unalakleet River basin, Alaska, 1982-83

Water-Resources Investigations Report 86-4089

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Abstract

The Unalakleet River, Alaska, from its headwaters to the confluence of the Chiroskey River has been designated as a wild river and is included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Yearly low flow, which occurs during the winter, is sustained by groundwater discharge; there are few lakes in the basin and the cold climate prevents winter runoff. The amount of winter streamflow was greatest in the lower parts of streams with the exception of the South River and was apparently proportional to the amount of unfrozen alluvium upstream from the measuring sites. Unit discharge in late winter ranged from nearly zero at the mouth of the South River to 0.24 cu ft/sec/sq mi in the Unalakleet River main stem below Tenmile River. Summer runoff at the time of the reconnaissance may have been slightly higher than normal owing to recent rains. Unit runoff ranged from a low of 1.0 cu ft/sec/sq mi at the South River, to a high value of 2.4 cu ft/sec/sq mi at the North Fork Unalakleet River. Flood marks were present in the basin well above streambank levels but suitable sections to measure the maximum evident flood by slope-area methods were not found. Flood peaks were calculated for the Unalakleet River and its tributaries using basin characteristics. Calculated unit runoff for the 50-year flood ranged from about 17 to 45 cu ft/sec/sq mi. Water quality was good throughout the basin, and an abundant and diversified community of benthic invertebrates was found in samples collected during the summer reconnaissance. Permafrost underlies most of the basin, but groundwater can be found in unfrozen alluvium in the stream valleys, most abundantly in the lower part of the main tributaries and along the main stem of the Unalakleet River. Groundwater sustains river flow through the winter; an estimate of its quantity can be found through low-flow measurements. Groundwater quality in the basin appears to be satisfactory for most uses. Currently, little groundwater is used within the basin. The water supply for Unalakleet is obtained from a well and gallery in a small valley north of the airport, outside the Unalakleet River basin. (Author 's abstract)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Hydrologic reconnaissance of the Unalakleet River basin, Alaska, 1982-83
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
86-4089
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1986
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
iv, 18 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.