Goose Pasture Tarn, a 771-acre-foot reservoir in Summit County, Colorado, is the principal domestic water-storage facility for the Town of Breckenridge and collects runoff from approximately 42 square miles of the upper Blue River watershed. In the 40 years since the reservoir was constructed, deltaic deposits have accumulated at the mouths of two perennial streams that provide most of the inflow and sediment to the reservoir. The Blue River is a low-gradient braided channel and transports gravel- to silt-size sediment. Indiana Creek is a steep-gradient channel that transports boulder- to silt-size sediment. Both deltas are composed predominantly of gravel, sand, and silt, but silt has been deposited throughout the reservoir. In 2004, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Town of Breckenridge, began a study to determine the volume of accumulated sediment in Goose Pasture Tarn, the long-term sedimentation rate for the reservoir, and the particle-size and chemical characteristics of the sediment.
Exposed delta deposits occupied 0.91 acre and had an estimated volume of 0.6 acre-foot in 2005. Aerial photographic analysis indicated both the Blue River and Indiana Creek deltas grew rapidly during time intervals that included larger-than-average annual flood peaks on the Blue River. Sediment-transport relations could not be developed for the Blue River or Indiana Creek because of minimal streamflow and infrequently observed sediment transport during the study; however, suspended-sediment loads ranged from 0.02 to 1.60 tons per day in the Blue River and from 0.06 to 1.55 tons per day in Indiana Creek. Bedload as a percentage of total load ranged from 9 to 27 percent.
New reservoir stage-area and stage-capacity relations were developed from bathymetric and topographic surveys of the reservoir bed. The original 1965 reservoir bed topography and the accumulated sediment thickness were estimated from a seismic survey and manual probing. The surface area of Goose Pasture Tarn in 2005 was 66.4 acres, and the reservoir capacity was 771.1 acre-feet at a full-pool elevation of 9,886.4 feet. The 1965 surface area was 67.1 acres, and the reservoir capacity was 818.0 acre-feet, indicating that the reservoir surface area has decreased by 0.7 acre, or about 1.1 percent, and the reservoir capacity has decreased by 46.9 acre-feet, or about 5.7 percent over a 40-year period.
Sediment thickness determined with seismic profiling ranged from 0 to 4.0 feet and averaged 0.7 foot, with lesser thicknesses in the deeper parts of the reservoir and greater thicknesses near the deltas. Probe-determined sediment thickness ranged from 1.0 to 4.4 feet and averaged 2.8 feet near the Blue River delta and ranged from 0.3 to 6.0 feet and averaged 3.6 feet near the Indiana Creek delta. Approximately 47.5 acre-feet of sediment has accumulated in Goose Pasture Tarn and in the Blue River and Indiana Creek deltas, or an average of 1.19 acre-feet per year.
Sediment cores from several locations in the reservoir showed stratification, which is indicative of different depositional dates or mechanisms. Metal and trace-constituent levels from the cores were compared with three standards. Silver, cadmium, europium, lead, and zinc were present in greater concentrations than Southern Rocky Mountain background levels in four sediment cores, and cadmium, lead, and zinc levels also were equal to or exceeded the Threshold Effect Concentration standards. Lead exceeded the Probable Effect Concentration standard in silt from the Blue River delta and deep water near the north shore. Tin was present in greater concentrations than Southern Rocky Mountain background levels in deep water near the east shore, and chromium and copper levels were equal to or exceeded the Threshold Effect Concentration standards in these cores.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Sedimentation in Goose Pasture Tarn, 1965-2005, Breckenridge, Colorado