We present a conceptual and analytical framework for predicting the spatial distribution of floodplain sedimentation for the Laguna de Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, CA. We assess the role of the floodplain as a sink for fine-grained sediment and investigate concerns regarding the potential loss of flood storage capacity due to historic sedimentation. We characterized the spatial distribution of sedimentation during a post-flood survey and developed a spatially distributed sediment deposition potential map that highlights zones of floodplain sedimentation. The sediment deposition potential map, built using raster files that describe the spatial distribution of relevant hydrologic and landscape variables, was calibrated using 2 years of measured overbank sedimentation data and verified using longer-term rates determined using dendrochronology. The calibrated floodplain deposition potential relation was used to estimate an average annual floodplain sedimentation rate (3.6 mm/year) for the ~11 km2 floodplain. This study documents the development of a conceptual model of overbank sedimentation, describes a methodology to estimate the potential for various parts of a floodplain complex to accumulate sediment over time, and provides estimates of short and long-term overbank sedimentation rates that can be used for ecosystem management and prioritization of restoration activities.
Additional publication details
Estimating floodplain sedimentation in the Laguna de Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, CA