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Geomorphic effects of large wood jams on a sub-antarctic mountain stream

Mao, L., Andreoli, A., Comiti, F., Lenzi, M.A.
River research and applications 2008 v.24 no.3 pp. 249-266
Castoridae, Nothofagus, climatic zones, correlation, dead wood, fluid mechanics, forests, jams, sediments, streams, wood, Argentina
Dead wood pieces, especially when organized in jams, play an important geomorphic role in streams because of the effects on flow hydraulics, pool formation and sediments storage. The increase in stream morphological diversity and complexity also exerts an important ecological role. This work reports on geomorphic role of large wood (LW) pieces and jams in a third-order mountain stream located in the Southern Tierra del Fuego (Argentina), and draining an old-growth Nothofagus-forested basin not influenced by the beavers damming activity. Even if the in-stream number of wood pieces (length >1 m; diameter >0.1 m) is comparable to that observed in other climatic areas, the slow growth of the Nothofagus forest causes a lower wood abundance in terms of volumetric load. Because of the relatively small dimensions of the surveyed LW pieces, almost 70% of them demonstrated to have been fluvial transported and also the wood jams reflect the apparent dynamic nature of wood in the channel. Wood jams exert a significant influence on the channel morphology, representing almost half of the drop caused by steps and being responsible for the creation of 30% of the pools. LW-forced pool volume is strongly and positively correlated to the height of the LW jam. The geomorphic influence of LW jams is also exerted by a considerable sediment storing capacity.