The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) created bathymetric and sediment facies maps for portions of two reaches of Lake Roosevelt in support of an interdisciplinary study of white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) and their habitat areas within Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, Washington. In October 2008, scientists from the USGS used a boat-mounted multibeam echo sounder (MBES) to describe bathymetric data to characterize surface relief at China Bend and Marcus Flats, between Northport and Kettle Falls, Washington. In March 2009, an underwater video camera was used to view and record sediment facies that were then characterized by sediment type, grain size, and areas of sand deposition. Smelter slag has been identified as having the characteristics of sand-sized black particles; the two non-invasive surveys attempted to identify areas containing black-colored particulate matter that may be elements and minerals, organic material, or slag. The white sturgeon population in Lake Roosevelt is threatened by the failure of natural recruitment, resulting in a native population that consists primarily of aging fish and that is gradually declining as fish die and are not replaced by nonhatchery reared juvenile fish. These fish spawn and rear in the riverine and upper reservoir reaches where smelter slag is present in the sediment of the river lake bed. Effects of slag on the white sturgeon population in Lake Roosevelt are largely unknown. Two recent studies demonstrated that copper and other metals are mobilized from slag in aqueous environments with concentrations of copper and zinc in bed sediments reaching levels of 10,000 and 30,000 mg/kg due to the presence of smelter slag. Copper was found to be highly toxic to 30-day-old white sturgeon with 96-h LC50 concentrations ranging from 3 to 5 (u or mu)g copper per liter. Older juvenile and adult sturgeons commonly ingest substantial amounts of sediment while foraging. Future study efforts in Lake Roosevelt should include sampling of bottom material to confirm the presence or absence of slag material indicated on the map. In addition, follow-up acoustic work to determine stream velocities at varying discharges, in conjunction with sediment mapping, would be helpful to more accurately identify areas of scour and areas of sediment deposition where slag deposits may accumulate within the Marcus Flats and China Bend reaches. MBES mapping could also be used to determine changes in bed elevation and sedimentation in the study reaches and could help evaluate annual deposition and provide estimates on fine-sediment thickness.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Bathymetric and sediment facies maps for China Bend and Marcus Flats, Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, Washington, 2008 and 2009