First Advisor

Andrew G. Fountain

Date of Publication

Winter 4-10-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Floodplains -- Effect of human beings on -- Columbia River Watershed, Landforms -- Columbia River Watershed, Geomorphology -- Columbia River Watershed



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 121 pages)


River systems, such as the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest, USA have been influenced by human activities, resulting in changes to the physical processes that drive landform evolution. This work describes an inventory of landforms along the Columbia River estuary between the Pacific Ocean and Bonneville Dam in Oregon and Washington. Groupings of landforms are assigned to formative process regimes that are used to assess historical changes to floodplain features. The estuary was historically a complex system of channels with a floodplain dominated by extensive tidal wetlands in the lower reaches and backswamp lakes and wetlands in upper reaches. Natural levees flank most channels in the upper reaches, locally including areas of ridge and swale topography and crevasse splays that intrude into backswamps. Other Holocene process regimes affecting floodplain morphology have included volcanogenic deltas, tributary fans, dunes, and landslides. Pre-Holocene landforms are locally prominent and include ancient fluvial deposits and bedrock. Historical changes to streamflow regimes, floodplain isolation by flood-control systems, and direct anthropogenic disturbance have resulted in channel narrowing and limited the amount of floodplain that can be shaped by flowing water. Floodplain isolation has caused relative subsidence of tidal floodplains along much of the lower estuary. Most extant landforms are on trajectories controlled by humans and new landforms are mostly created by humans.


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