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5 Shoreline and Upland Systems INTRODUCTION The shoreline and upland systems are integral parts of the Mono Basin. If the level of Mono Lake rises or falls, the shoreline will be inundated or exposed, and the shore- line system will be altered. Many of these alterations in the shoreline system are controlled by hydrologic changes in the nearshore groundwater, as discussed in chapter 2. Except for the streams themselves and the riparian flora and fauna, the upland system will not generally be affected by changes in lake level. A description of the upland sys- tem is nevertheless necessary for an overall understanding of the basin. This chapter describes the physical components of the shoreline and upland systems--topography, soils, and natural events affecting the systems--as well as the biotic com- ponents--vegetation and wildlife. The interface between the land and the air, controlling aerosol production from the alkali flats, and the interface between the land and the water, controlling the tufa formations and shoreline ero- sion, are also discussed. PHYSICAL COMPONENTS Topography The Mono Basin lies on the border of two major physio- graphic provinces--the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin-- 121

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122 The Mono Basin Ecosystem and is part of both. The first, and still one of the best, descriptions of the Mono Basin was that of I. C. Russell (1889~. The basin includes a variety of features of great interest to geologists, climatologists, and geographers--vol- canos, fault scares, glacial cirques and moraines, tufa for- mations, sand dunes, perennial streams, and several lakes. The watershed extends to the crest of the Sierra and includes Mt. Lyell, Koip Peak, Mt. Dana, and Mt. Conness. The elevations within the basin range from 13,000 ft to about 6,380 ft. the current level of Mono Lake. The geo- morphology of the area is closely related to the geology Studies of the stratigraphy re- vea~ ~ ~ mayor glacial advances and various layers of glacial moraines, volcanic pumice and ash, and erosional sediments from streams. Among the terrain features are several of special importance for their scientific interest and scenic value, including Bloody Canyon (a classic example of Sier- ran glaciation), the Mt. Dana glacier, the Mono Craters, Paoha Island, and Negit Island. Topographic features in the regions surrounding the Mono Basin include the Inyo Craters, Long Valley, Glass Mountain, the Bodie Hills, Sweetwater Mountain, and the White Mountains (Figure 5.1~. Adjoining drainages are the San Joaquin, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers on the western slope of the Sierra, the Walker River to the north, and the Owens River to the south. Topographic maps and aerial photographs available for the Mono Basin are listed in the bibliography. and the paleoclimatology. ~ ~ ~ . ~ . ~ . Soils Gallegos (1986) has provided a soils map for the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area. He recognized 53 map- ping units within the scenic area, with the bulk of the soils belonging to the Entiso] order. A few Mollisols and Aridisols were also encountered. Entisols are defined as soils that lack pedogenic horizons except for a slight dark- ening of the surface layer by organic matter. Mollisols are well-developed soils having a surface layer that is heavily melanized and deep (at least 25 cm deep or one-third of the combined depth of the A- and B-horizons). The

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Shoreline and Upland Systems 5,~A=~ / I /' ~Twin L.h.s ~ % —~ MATTERHORN ~ t ``PEAK 1~'ONWAY SUP ONION ~~ ~~ ~ \ ~' ret Point,' MONO LAKE ~ MT, WARREN And Gig ) t ·7 Go__ ~~ 2 33 MONO DO 4E ~ ~~ Probe lily MT. CONNESS`` · - `, L" Vlning a\ TIOCA PASS Y ~ ~ It__. ~ Err. DAN 84; O \ ,` ~ Crant KOIP PK ~ ,, Lay FEZ `, AL he {a BALD &IT CLlA1,5S3 T MT LYELL J 13,15B ~,’> \ \ : %\ tt11,034 ~~) ~ ~~ ~Ntb Lop J c~vsN COWTRACK MT ` 8875 123 'it ~ 'of ~ "A ~ MEND - Y 3,145 °~ Solon ~~ 'N \~_/ 13,055 *'I \ ~ \ %~ Chummy I WHITE MrN \ 14,_ 14 242 FIGURE 5.1 Topographic and other features of area sur- rounding Mono Lake. surface layer has a soft, crumbly structure when dry and has calcium as the dominant cation on the colloidal exchange particles. Aridisols have at least one pedogenic horizon, but never have water continuously available for plant growth for as much as 90 days when soil tempera- tures are above 5.0°C. As Gallegos (1986) has noted, the soils of the scenic area have developed from two primary parent materials (Figure 5.2~. Soils of areas to the west, southwest, and northwest of Mono Lake are derived principally from the granitic core of the Sierra and from metasedimentary rocks that were uplifted with the Sierra and are now exposed as scattered fragments along the crests and sides of the mountain range. These soils are usually coarse textured and bear variable amounts of rock fragments in the profile.

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124 The Mono Basin Ecosystem Lake sediments or ash or allavlum deposits with high water tables and alkaline reaction Ash cinders or volcanic craters Solls neutral or silghtly to strongly acidic 1 Reeldual or transported soil derived form granite and metals sedimentary rocks Sons acidic to circumneutral FIGURE 5.2 Area. MONO LAKE 0 1 2 3 SCALE IN MILES Soils of Mono Basin National Forest Scenic The rest of the soils of the scenic area are derived from either rhyolitic ash or cinder deposits or from heteroge- neous lake sediments. Black Point and Negit Island are both of volcanic origin, but the material is darker (basalt) anc chemically distinct from the rhyolitic Mono Craters. The rhyolitic deposits are young, highly permeable to water, and extremely infertile. The lake sediments are, of

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Shoreline and Upland Systems 125 course, of mixed origin. Since the lake has progressively receded in its undrained basin, accumulated salts impreg- nate its younger sediments. Gentle slopes along the north and east shores of the lake result in large exposures of saline lake sediments and high water tables as the lake recedes. As a consequence, soils along those shores differ strongly from soils of the western and southern shores, where the landscape rises more steeply from the water's edge. In the latter areas, acidic soils occur within a few hundred meters of the high- ly alkaline, damp shorelines adjacent to the lake. In con- trast, sediments that are strongly influenced by the lake with respect to both chemistry and water table often ex- tend for a kilometer or more (sometimes up to 4 km) away from the current shoreline along the north and east shores. Soil salinity problems appear to be exacerbated along these shores by water draining from the Bodie Hills via Wilson Creek. That water becomes highly saline and alkaline as it percolates through the lake sediments. · . l hUS at a large number ot sites, water rises to the soil surface by capil- larity and leaves behind its load of soluble salts as it eva- porates. The commonest soils on the mountainous west end of the scenic area are Typic Xerorthents (Table 5. 1~. These are Entisols formed in areas having moist winters and dry summers. The combining term ortho- conveys the idea of genuine or true. -~ ~~- -~ :~ := _: Entisol, an orthent soil is a true or genuine Entisol. The - tiara the Cllt-t-1Y _~.nt ~~.Rl~nOtes an extensive morainal deposits in the mountains there support Typic Cryorthents and Typic Cryoborolls. The cryo- prefix designates soils that have a mean annual temperature at 50 cm of over 0° but less than S.0°C. Rhyolitic outcrops have developed Typic Haploxerolls. Soils ending in -oil are ~ -I ~ -- The moraines and alluvial fans at the mouth of Lundy Canyon support Xeric Torripsamment, Durorthidic Xeric Torripsam- ment, and Typic Xerorthent soils. The ash and cinder plains along both east and west sides of the Mono Craters to the south of the lake have developed Dystric Xerorthent, Typic Xeropsamments, Xeric Torripsamments, and Xeric Torriorthent soils (Table 5. 1~. Dystric soils are dystrophic or infertile due to displacement Mollisols or soils with deep, ctar~-co~orea ep~pec~ons.

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126 The Mono Basin Ecosystem TABLE 5.1 The Major Soil Subgroups Encountered on Each of the Three Major Parent Material Types (Figure 5.1 ) Around Mono Lake Granite- Rhyolitic Lake and Alluvial metasedimentary Ash Sediments Typic Xerorthents Typic Cryorthants Typic Cryoborolls Typic Haploxerolls Xeric Torripsamments Durorthidic Xeric Torripsamments Typic Xerorthents Xeric Torripsamments Xeric Torriorthents Typic Xeropsamments Dystric Xerorthents NOTE: Technical names are used for the soil subgroups listed, since they convey information concerning root zone temperature and seasonal water availability, profile development, presence of a water table within the soil profile, and texture of parent material. See Gallegos (1986) for location of the various soils in the landscape. Haplaquents Durorthidic Xeric Torripsamments Durorthidic Xeric Torriorthents Aeric Haplaquents Typic Psammaquents Typic Haplaquents Typic Xerorthents Xeric Torripsamments Xeric Torriorthents Xerollic Camborthids of biologically essential cations by hydrogen. Such soils are strongly acidic in reaction. Xeric Torripsamments are the most widespread soils in the area, but Xeric Torrior- thents and Typic Xeropsamments are also widespread. The commonest soils on the north and east shores of Mono Lake are Haplaquents, Durorthidic Xeric Torripsam- ments, Durorthidic Xeric Torriorthents, Aeric Haplaquents, Typic Psammaquents, and Typic Haplaquents (Table 5. 1~. Aquents are Entisols in which a water table occurs in com- bination with conditions of poor soil aeration. The prefix hapla- carries the meaning of simple or minimal h~ri7.nn Durorthidic soils have a weakly cemented silicon pan within the surface meter. Black Point supports Xeric Torripsamments and Typic Xerorthent soils. The major upland soil on Paoha Island is a Xeric Torriorthent. The principal upland soil on Negit Island is mapped as a Xerollic Camborthid. Orthids are Aridisols that do not have a high clay or a high sodium horizon. Camborthids have an altered (cambic) subsurface horizon that is development. ~ .. .

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Shoreline and Upland Systems 127 generally redder or browner than the surface horizon. These soils are circumneutral to strongly alkaline in reac- tion. Levels of soluble salts are often so high in some of these soils that all plant life is excluded. The low fertility of upland soils to the south and west of the lake is striking when parameters for those soils taken in connection with this report are compared with soils from comparable elevations and vegetation types in the Bonneville Basin of western Utah (Table 5.2~. The data demonstrate that for most variables, the soils derived from rhyolitic ash contain significantly smaller amounts of ele- ments essential for biological systems than those formed from granitic and metasedimentary parent materials. Both of those Mono Basin parent materials produce soils that are highly impoverished in phosphorus and exchangeable bases relative to the common soils of uplands in the Bonneville Basin (Table 5.2~. Recent experimental plantings of container-grown stock of salt-tolerant native shrubs (Atriplex canescens and Sar- cobatus vermiculatus) on the sandy beaches of the north shore suggest that the erosive action of windblown sand and adverse soil chemistry combine to make revegetation with shrubs an unlikely means of stabilizing such an area (Romney et al., 1986~. Direct seeding of grasses and shrubs also shows little promise, but hand plantings of saltgrass (DistichZis spicata) rhizomes are often successful on the less harsh portions of the north shore (Romney et al., 1986~. Natural Events Hydrogeomorphic Events Hydrogeomorphic events discussed here include avalan- ches and erosion. The steep eastern escarpment of the Sierra is prone to large, destructive avalanches during and following periods of prolonged snowfall. Particularly af- fected are the canyons, in which snow sliding downward from the higher slopes is funneled into a narrow valley, thus deepening the mass and increasing its momentum. Avalanches are common in winters when dry, windy periods between major storms create an icy or wind-crusted snow

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Shoreline and Upland Systems 129 surface on which the new snow slides easily. Melt-freeze metamorphism is also important in the formation of icy surfaces. The most widespread and destructive avalanches in re- cent years occurred throughout the Sierra in February 1986. Damage to vegetation was extensive over a wide range of elevation from mountain hemlock and lodgepole pines near Tioga Pass to aspen and pinyon pines near Mono Lake. Widespread avalanches also occurred in 1921, 1952, 1969, and 1982. Meteorologic events determine the frequency and sever- ity of erosion episodes along the lakeshore, on lands ex- posed by the receding lake, and in the steep canyons. As noted below in the section on the land-water interface, strong winds cause lake waves that alter the shoreline and batter nearshore tufa formations. Such winds also blow sand into shifting dunes and transport fine alkali dust, salts, and other particulates to altitudes up to several thousand feet and for distances of tens to hundreds of miles. The extent of wind erosion on surrounding hills and mountain uplands depends in large measure on whether ri- parian vegetation has been previously destroyed by fire or, less commonly, by overgrazing. Other forms of erosion that affect landforms, particularly streambed and ephemeral stream channel erosion, are associated with high-intensity rainfall and associated flash floods. Such episodes occur most frequently from midsummer to early fall. A particu- larly memorable event was experienced on Post Office Creek in early August 1955. Heavy thunderstorm rains caused a flash flood that severely damaged Tioga Lodge and washed about 20 automobiles into Mono Lake; no one was killed or injured (H. Klieforth, personal communica- tion). F. Ire In an environment such as that of the Mono Basin, where summer precipitation is scanty and unpredictable, wildfires in the natural vegetation are common. Both low- altitude photographs and space satellite images (Ustin et al., 1986) show conspicuous fire scars in the shrublands and

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130 The Mono Basin Ecosystem forests of the general area. Woody-stem aging techniques and government records reveal that fires have burned re- peatedly throughout at least the past century in the Mono Basin. Historic records demonstrate that the fires result from both natural causes ("dry" lightning) and direct human intervention. Fires are known to have swept over all veg- etative types in the basin, including marshes, brushlands, woodlands, and forests. Because of broken terrain and locally sparse plant cover, few individual fires have burned over large areas. Within the scenic area, there are known scars of over 40 fires that burned in years ranging from before 1875 to 1986, but no fire larger than 100 acres is apparent. Most fires burn fewer than 10 acres before natural factors or direct intervention by fire-control teams limits their spread. Since plants differ in their ability to regrow after fire, fires in woody vegetation in particular alter the composi- tion of the plant cover for decades after the actual pas- sage of the blaze. Forest trees such as the quaking aspen (Populus tremuloid~es) sprout profusely after fire, while other associated trees (e.g., Abies concolor and Pinus jef- freyi) are killed by crown fires. At lower elevations or on drier slopes, the major species of the pinyon-juniper wood- lands are severely affected by crown fires. Pines mono- phyIla, Juniperus osteosperma, Cercocarpus ledifolitcs, and Artemisia tridentata all fail to sprout after fire, and soils are stabilized solely by herbaceous species (which are often sparse in these woodlands) for many years after a fire. In the upland shrublands of the pumice flats south of Mono Lake, neither of the dominant shrubs (Artemisia tri- d~entata and Purshia trid~entata) sprout after fire. As a result, fire scars remain sparsely vegetated for many years on such sites. Grasses and perennial herbs perform poorly on these sites, and adapted annual plants are small and short-lived. Sprouting shrubs and herbs are the rule on sites nearer the lake, where water tables are near the surface and soils are often at least somewhat saline. The grasses Distichlis spicata and Spartina gracilis sprout vigorously after fire, as do associated shrubs such as Chrysothamnus nauseosus,

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Shoreline and Upland Systems 131 Salix exigua, Sarcobatus vermiculatus, and Shepherdia ar- gentea. Since the soils on upland sites in the Mono Basin are generally coarse and well drained, fires on those soils rare- ly result in erosion by running water. Infiltration rates are rapid enough to preclude the accumulation of surface rivulets that might result in gully formation. On fine- textured sands, fires may permit enough wind action to produce small mounds before natural recovery of the vegetation cover is adequate to prevent soil movement. Fires on the steeper slopes of the Sierra portion of the scenic area do sometimes result in significant erosion by water. The result may be gentle sheet erosion without the formation of rills or gullies, but topsoil with its content of biologically essential elements does creep slowly downslope. In a few cases, torrential rains or heavy snowpacks have accumulated on fire-denuded slopes and released heavy flows that have produced gullies and moved sediments into stream channels and even into the lake itself. Field obser- vations made while conducting this study suggest that such erosional events in connection with wildfires are not com- mon even along the Sierra front. Of 12 historic wildfire sites examined by a member of the committee, K. T. Harper, only one showed any evidence of significant soil loss from surface runoff. At that site, organic matter in the surface 15 cm of soil was only about 20 percent less than that of adjacent areas that were unaffected by fire. It would thus appear that upland fires produce few ero- sional events that would significantly affect Mono Lake chemistry directly. Another adverse effect of fire on steep, wooded slopes along the Sierra face is enhanced frequency of snow ava- lanches. In some situations, fires appear to have opened avalanche tracks that have not fully healed in a century. Avalanches are not only hazardous to humans, but they also redistribute natural precipitation and alter local runoff of surface water. While fire is not a serious threat to vegetation near the lake, there are other areas within the Mono Basin where fire could damage the ecosystem. These areas include the lower hills covered by mature sage and bitterbrush stands,

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168 25 20 g 15 a 10 The Mono Basin Ecosystem 35 . MILES 33- 400 700 850 FIGURE 5.6 Vertical cross section of Sierra lee wave showing air flow pattern and cloud forms (Holmboe and Klieforth, 1957~. Out that the worst dust storms in Owens Valley were associated with northerly winds aligned with the axis of the valley (parallel to the Sierra), and that such storms transport significant quantities of dust for over 100 mi. In both Owens and Mono basins, strong southerly winds also cause major dust storms. Saint-Amand et al. describe dif- ferences between dust episodes in the two basins and dis- cuss possible treatments to alleviate dust problems. Consequences of Wind Storms Most of the content of the windborne material is inor- ganic particulates of geologic origin--sand, salts, and other compounds. These materials when airborne affect visibility and air quality. Larger particulates transported along or

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Shoreline and UplandF Systems EARLY MORNING ( 4~r Lightning ~ (~9~.'r A EARLY TO MID-AFTERNOON (W or E) 169 _ ·: MID-MORNING _ (Over Mountalns) LATE MORNING _. ~. ~ --; ~~ - h - ~~—~~ ~g <~ ~ `~ Dark ~ Acre—. .~- Ace.. ~~ ~ (~- LATE AFTERNOON OR EARLY EVENING (E) EVENING (E) FIGURE 5.7 Typical diurnal sequence of cloud development and precipitation during summer monsoon season (Powell and Kileforth, in press). near the surface of the ground affect vegetation, tufa for- mations, wildlife, and human activities. The reports by Cahill and Gill (1987) and Saint-Amand et al. (1986) discuss the composition of airborne particulates and their relation to human respiratory problems. The stabilization of sand dunes, playas, exposed lands, and other erosion-prone ter- rain has been addressed recently by various groups with consideration of experimental plantings, placement of drift fences, and other treatment. Much more research is needed on all of these problems. It should be noted that the dust problems of Owens Basin are greater and different in kind from those of the Mono Basin. The town of Lee Vining and nearby popula- tion centers are rarely physically affected by airborne dust or blowing sand from the playas surrounding Mono Lake. However, in the future there could be a decrease in air quality caused by smoke and automobile exhausts from heavily populated areas at Mammoth and the June Lake area. Such an increase in aerosols coupled with low-level

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170 The Mono Basin Ecosystem temperature inversions could also lead to decreased visibil- ity and a possible increase in the frequency and duration of fog over Mono Lake. LAND-WATER INTERFACE Tufa Dynamics The tufa towers, formed when carbonate materials pre- cipitate as described in chapter 3, are a significant scenic attraction of the Mono Basin. As la ke level has declined in the past, groves of lithoid tufa towers have become ex- posed at the locations and elevations shown in Figure 5.~. These towers range in height from a few feet to tens of feet. The fragile sand tufa, whose locations are shown in Figure 5.9, are castlelike features that form when the car- bonate material acts as a cementing agent for sand par- ticles. These formations are not greater than approximate- ly 6 ft in height. The sand tufa are highly erodible. Wave action associ- ated with changes in lake level could be expected to topple these formations. On the other hand, the lithoid tufa tow- ers are hard and less erodible, although wave action against the base of the towers has been observed to cause towers to topple. Observations at the South Tufa Area by personnel of the Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve suggest that towers that are already unstable may topple with a slow recession of the lake. If the lake level shifts abrupt- ly, otherwise secure towers may be jeopardized. Approxi- mately 24 percent of the changes in tufa formations in the South Tufa Area, one of the most frequently visited tufa areas, appear to have been caused by the wave action from rising lake levels (memo from Dave and Janet Carte, Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve, to Russ Guiney, January 31, 1986~. Shoreline Erosion As lake levels fluctuate, the shoreline topography will be modified by erosion from wind, surface water runoff, and lakeshore processes. This erosion is significant to the basin ecosystem to the extent that abrasion from wind

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Shoreline and Upland Systems I · LITHOID TUFA TOWERS N Bridgeport Creek Tufa ` ' ~'''''.'''.'''''''.'.''.''''.''.2'.''''''.''.'' -'it ~ It Island .... :: 6415-6370 ft : ::::::: ::::: County Park, De ham eau Creek: < r Paoha Isla ~~ — A^A_d `1 g * Ring ~ | 171 Warm ,:: . Springs ,......... 643C ft .....~.......... 64 :::: ~v_-wv~ .. . ::::: ~— 1 Boundary of Scenic Area 0 1 2 3 , SCALE IN MILES FIGURE 5.S Locations and elevations of bases of lithoid tufa towers. Elevations are estimated by observations and have not been surveyed. Does not include locations of beach rock or tufa-coated boulders. (Courtesy of N. Upham, U.S. Forest Service.) inhibits vegetation growth and rapid erosion of surficial soils destroys habitats. No published reports describe these processes in the Mono Basin. Nevertheless, some general observations can be made about the extent of erosion that will occur if lake levels decline.

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172 H RANGE OF SAND TUFA FORMATIONS | N ~ . ~ TIFF..-. 1!!~ The Mono Basin Ecosystem .~ .............................................. at, ................................. .................................... ............................... ............................................... .......................................... ~.,,,, ~ ~ ,: ' '''' ''' ''''''' ''' ' """""" "' '1 A.;.;; .;;;; ; ;.;.;.; ;.; ;.; ~ ..................... .......................................... ................................... ~: ~ n ................ ~ ' 2.""'""""""'""""""""] . ~ ~ . ~ ~ '''' '' '" '""I'":: 2 2 2 2 2 2-2.~ ,2.~ ,2 ~ 2-- )~ _ ;~ it ~ r.:a° . < ~~Ne itIsland .................... t . N ...................................................... ) ... j^ .\ ........................ _. 2.;.; ;.; ; ~ ........................................ _ N............................................... .............................................................. `................................................ ...................... \........................................... \.................................... ~........................................ ]................................. \.................................... ~ ......................... t...~........................ ]..~....................................... /~...................................... '.~.' ........ '..~.............................. , ,..., ..................... .. ........ /~' ............. '\ d~' .................. i. em..  ,,.,,. - ,,.~ i mono B... ,,, ,,,, ,, ,, .. ,, ,.,, ...., ....... ,, . ,, ,,, .,, ,, ................... ~ .................. : :. :,:,:, .: ~ 1 Lee Vinin · I 2 ' 2 : g I ....................................... , ! 1 ............................................... ' 1 ................................. , ., ., ,. ~ . '.~ _ ~.;..~ ~...~. I.. ............ t::~:: : ~ :~~ A, ~ Paoha Island ~ ...,,, ..,, ., ~ t::::::::::::::L .,...,. ;~ .,.,., ., .,, .t ..-.2,.,...,~ 1 ', , ..... ,, - , ~ , . on ::: .~.:.6 9.. :.:::::- ::::: I........................................................................... L222""''"'"''2'222'""'222'''"'"""''""""''"'''"''i"""''-''': ' i'"' - - : ::: 64 _6432 ::: .:.:: :.: . 2 22 2.. 222 .. -...~642,,8.,.,;.: :,:,. :. ,:...... ~ 1.,., . ... : ' ' ... - ' ' 2 ''-'' ~,........................................................................................... ~ ~ 2 2 2 .................. ~::::::::::::::::.::,::::,:::::::::::,:,:,:::::::::::.::,:,:::::::::::::::::::: i.2'2 2 '"'""""""""'''''' 122""""""2""""222""22 '''''''''''.'.'.'..'....'.'.'.'.............. i'2'2 '.' '""''''' . [.............................................................................................. ~ '22.2 2.' ""'"'"''''''''' t................................................................................................... 12 2 ' ' ' ................................. ` """''""''""":"""'''''''' I,:.: :.:.:, ,:2..,,:........................ JO ,:,.,:,:,: ,: :' ' 2 ~22";"""""2"'22222"2""! l _ Boundary of Scenic Area O · 2 3 J SCALE IN MILES FIGURE 5.9 Locations and elevations of bases of sand tufa. Elevations are estimated by observations and have not been surveyed. (Courtesy of N. Upham, U.S. Forest Service.) If lake levels drop, several types of shoreline erosion will occur. Declining lake levels will increase the gradient of streams entering the lake, increasing channel erosion in the vicinity of where the streams enter the lake. As the streams adjust to new base levels, the channels will incise,

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Shoreline and Upland Systems 173 creating steep banks along the channel, increasing sediment load into the lake, and lowering the adjacent water table. The result of the increased sediment load is progression of delta sediments into the lake and perhaps increased tur- biditY from suspended fine-grained sediments. Stream channel downcutting caused by the past lowering ot fame levels is apparent along Rush, Lee Vining, and Mill creeks. In addition, diversion of water from Mill Creek has caused dowocutting in Wilson Creek. Even if lake levels remain constant in the future, erosion of bank sediments in these areas, with increased sediment input to the lake, will con- tinue as currently oversteepened banks continue to erode. If lake levels decline in the future, the induced erosion will further incise stream channels, increasing sediment transport to the lake. If lake levels rise, the stream will adjust to a new base level, causing aggradation of channel deposits and decreased sediment load to the lake. Lowering lake levels would expose large areas- of lake bed to erosion by wind, abrasion, surface water, and lake wave action. The effects of wind abrasion are discussed earlier. In addition to downcutting in stream channels by surface water flow, exposed lake beds are subject to rill and sheet erosion by overland flow. This process removes fine sediments from exposed surfaces and increases the transport of sediments to the lake. Prediction of future erosion rates and sediment loads is difficult, however, because the rate of erosion in a particular area depends on a number of factors such as the credibility of the exposed sediments, the amount of lake level change, and the slope of the exposed lake bottom. The shoreline process of greatest concern probably is the potential destruction of the islets in the vicinity of Paoha Island (S. Stine, University of California, Berkeley, personal communication, 1987~. Geomorphic ant! erosional features on the islets indicate that they are highly credible bv lake wave action. ., _ As with other shoreline erosional processes, however, the extent and rate of erosion that might occur as lake levels change will depend on the amount of lake level change and the number of fluctuations to which the shoreline is subjected.

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