Massive biomass flushing despite modest channel response in the Rayas River following the 2008 eruption of Chaitén volcano, Chile

Ulloa, H., Iroumé, A., Picco, L., Korup, O., Lenzi, M.A., Mao, Luca and Ravazzolo, D. (2015) Massive biomass flushing despite modest channel response in the Rayas River following the 2008 eruption of Chaitén volcano, Chile. Geomorphology, 250 . pp. 397-406. ISSN 0169555X

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Abstract

The 2008 eruption of Chaitén volcano in southern Chile severely impacted several densely forested river catchments by supplying excess pyroclastic sediment to the channel networks. Our aim is to substantiate whether and howchannel geometry and forest stands changed in the Rayas River following the sudden input of pyroclastic sediment. We measured the resulting changes to channel geometry and riparian forest stands along 17.6kmof the impacted gravel-bed Rayas River (294 km2) from multiple high-resolution satellite images, aerial photographs, and fieldwork to quantify yield volume characteristics of the forest stands. Limited channel changes during the last 60 years before the eruption reflect a dynamic equilibriumcondition of the river corridor, despite the high annual precipitation and the sediment supply from Chaitén and Michinmahuida volcanoes in the headwaters. Images taken in 1945, 2004, and 2005 show that total size of the vegetated channel islands nearly doubled between 1945 and 2004 and remained unchanged between 2004 and 2005. Pyroclastic sediment entering the Rayas River after the 2008 eruption caused only minor average channel widening (7), but killed all island vegetation in the study reach. Substantial shifts in the size distribution of in-channel vegetation patches reflect losses in total island area of 46 from 2005 to 2009 and an additional 34 from2009 to 2012. The estimated pulsed release of organic carbon into the channel, mainly in the formof largewood from obliterated island and floodplain forests, was 78-400 tC/km/y and surpasses most documented yields from small mountainous catchments with similar rainfall, forest cover, and disturbance history,while making up between 20 and 60 of the annual carbon burial rate of fluvial sediments in the northern Patagonian fjords. We conclude that the carbon footprint of the 2008 Chaitén eruption on the Rayas Riverwas more significant than the measured geomorphic impacts on channel geometry for the first five years following disturbance. Themodest post-eruptive geomorphic response in this river is a poor indicator of its biogeochemical response. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

Additional Information:cited By 10
Keywords:Chaitén volcano, Channel island, Forest disturbance, Organic carbon
Subjects:F Physical Sciences > F820 Geomorphology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Geography
ID Code:32780
Deposited On:25 Jul 2018 08:44

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