Long-Term Erosion Monitoring in the Copeland Creek Headwaters
Project Description: Due to the erosive geology in the headwaters of Copeland Creek, the tiny watershed (only 5.1 square miles) produces an astonishing amount of sediment. This project is designed to monitor processes that contribute to sedimentation in the watershed: changes in channel form and creek banks, debris flows, and mud flows. Differences between perennial and ephemeral drainages are explored.
Duration: Spring 2012-present
Type of Educational Activities: service-learning, senior thesis
Project Faculty: Michelle Goman (Geography), Jeff Baldwin (Geography)
Partners: Sonoma County Water Agency, Center for Environmental Inquiry
- GEOG 360: Geomorphology (Michelle Goman) - 23 students (Fall 2013); 16 students (Fall 2014)
- GEOG 490: Geography Senior Seminar (Jeff Baldwin) – 1 student (Spring 2012)
Sampling Locations: Monitoring sites are located on Copeland Creek and an unnamed ephemeral tributary and include 5 cross-sectional transects (yellow pins in photo at right), bank erosion pins (co-located on 4 of the cross-sectional transects), Wolman pebble counts (co-located on 4 of the cross-sectional transects), debris flow and mud slide photomonitoring points (green dots), and head scarp erosion pins (white dots).
- Cross-Sectional Transects: Students survey cross-sectional and longitudinal profiles of the creek bed using an autolevel. An arbitrary benchmark of 100 meters is used in all autolevel surveys. Measurements are recorded every 0.5 meters or at sudden slope changes for both the longitudinal and cross-section profiles. A sketch of each site was made using a compass and meter tape.
- Bank Erosion: Erosion pins (rebar) were set in within the streambank at two locations on the cross-section transects to monitor bank erosion. A measurement of the exposed metal was taken using calipers.
- Quantification and Characterization of Bed Load Material: Wolman pebble counts were used to characterize grain particle size and distribution of bed and bank material.
- Head Scarp Movement: Erosion pins (rebar) were placed at the top of two scarps created by debris flows.
- Debris and Mudflow Movement: Photomonitoring stations were established at the foot of two debris flows and a mud flow.
Field surveys are conducted under the guidance of Michelle Goman and Jeff Baldwin.
Data: (see data disclaimer)
- Erosion monitoring data on Copeland Creek (Fairfield Osborn Preserve): erosion_monitoring_copeland_creek.xlsx
- Erosion monitoring data on ephemeral creek (Fairfield Osborn Preserve): erosion_monitoring_ephermal_creek.xlsx
- Monitoring stream bank erosion and migration at the Fairfield Osborn Preserve. Lauryn Hopper and Quinten Rodriguez (Advisor: Michelle Goman). Hopper and Rodriguez 2015 (2.5 Mb)
- Rods, Pebbles, and Pins: Tracking Changes in Fluvial Processes Fairfield Osborn Preserve. Zachary Truskolaski and Devin Connor (Advisor: Michelle Goman, Geography 360 Geomorphology) Truskolaski and Connor 2014 (pdf, 2 Mb); 2014 WATERS Abstracts
- Stream reach characterization of Copeland Creek, Rohnert Park, California. Alexa Melcon. Fall 2013. (Instructor: Michelle Goman, Geography Department). Class Report. Melcon 2013 (pdf, 0.6 Mb)
- Fluvial erosion and transport: a study of an ephemeral stream located within the Fairfield Osborn Preserve, Sonoma County, California.. Robbie Gleaton. 2013. (Instructor: Michelle Goman, Geography Department). Class Report. Gleaton 2013 (pdf, 0.8 Mb)
- Establishing a longitudinal study for sediment input in the Copeland Creek headwaters. Griffin Ballard. 2013. (Advisor: Jeff Baldwin, Geography Department). Senior Thesis. Ballard 2013 (pdf, 2.7 Mb)
- Osborn Ephemeral stream December 2014 (mov, 22 Mb)
- Landslides of the Copeland Creek Watershed. From Copeland Creek Watershed Assessment (2004)
- Lidar Data: Bare earth projection (4MB); data location
- Harrelson, Cheryl C; Rawlins, C. L.; Potyondy, John P. 1994. Stream channel reference sites: an illustrated guide to field technique. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-245. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 61 p. http://www.stream.fs.fed.us/publications/PDFs/RM245E.PDF
- Copeland Creek Restoration Project Monitoring Plan (2001). The report describes method to evaluate the effectiveness of SCWA's habitat restoration for a ~6,000 linear feet of Copeland Creek between Roberts/Pressley Road and Petaluma Hill Road (east of SSU campus). The project objectives were to ( 1) improve aquatic habitat and water quality through decreasing sediment, nutrient loads, and water temperature;( 2) decrease erosion through development of more stable channel banks and channel courses; and (3) increase fish and wildlife diversity and abundance. The plan provides information on how monitoring will be conducted and includes descriptions of stream cross-section profile, stream longitudinal profile, vegetation surveys, stream habitat and fish surveys, reptile and amphibian surveys, bird surveys, small mammal surveys.
- Copeland Creek Watershed Assessment (2004).
- University District Specific Plan Draft Environmental Impact Report; Chapter 3 Impact Analysis (January 29, 2010) The Draft EIR evaluates the potential effects of the proposed University District development. Section 3.6 includes a description of geology and soils. Other Rohnert Park Specific Plans.
- Northern California Geological Society (NCGS) The Geology of Sonoma - Allen et al. 2009. This is a geology field trip guide to Sonoma Mountain with lots of great information. That last few pages are about the Osborn Preserve and there is a detailed analysis of landslide mapping on the Preserve, including the 1986 Valentine’s Day debris flow.
- Potter, C and S. Hiatt.(2009). Modeling river flows and sediment dynamics for the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed in Northern California. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. Vol. 64 (6):383-393.
- LiDAR Data: Bare earth projection (4MB); data location
- Sonoma County Water Agency(data provided by Mark Bautista). The following amounts of sediment were removed from Copeland Creek between 2008 and 2012 to maintain flood capacity in the lower reaches of the channel:
- 2008 – 5,120 cu yds
- 2009 – 240+168 cu yds
- 2010 – 300 cu yds
- 2011 – 250+760 cu yd
- Copeland Creek Watershed Assessment (2004) reports the following information on sediment removal:
- < 1997 – "In the past, flood control channels were cleared at least once every five years."
- 1997 – “100 percent of Copeland Creek was cleared in 1997"
- 1998 – “One of the largest sediment removal activities [of SCWA] was performed in a two and half mile stretch of Copeland Creek three years ago (1998).
- 2000 – “About 2,000 feet of channel was maintained in 2000. Sediment input from a large runoff area upstream has resulted in significant sediment loads into the creek” (R. Anderson, SCWA, pers comm. 2000)
- 2001 – “Only 17 percent (2,000 ft) requires cleaning this year (2001).”