Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Athanasios N. Papanicolaou

First Committee Member

A. Jacob Odgaard

Second Committee Member

Christopher G Wilson


The objective of this study was to determine the origin of sediment currently collected in Black Lake, an extremely productive salmon fishing environment located along a remote section of the Alaska Peninsula, AK. To meet the goals of this project, soil cores were collected at the site during an extensive field study. The field investigation was based on a prior numerical study, which revealed the most erodible areas and the hydrologic patterns in Black Lake and its tributaries, namely the Alec River. From this study, select locations of the catchment were chosen for coring. These included the Alec River Delta, Black Lake, and four tributaries in the catchment. These samples were analyzed for the radionuclides 137Cs and 210Pb to determine soil deposition rates using Gamma Spectroscopy. To determine the sedimentation rate of each coring location, spikes in the 137Cs activity were connected to the known cesium deposition peak in 1964 and the depth of soil above the peak was divided by the number of years that have passed. This gave a spatially averaged deposition rate within the lake of roughly 0.25 cm/y. This result closely compared to the numerical study of Elhakeem and Papanicolaou (2008) and to a study done in close proximity to Black Lake in the early 1990s (Stihler et al. 1992). The rate of each location was then validated by visually analyzing each core using soil color demarcation lines to determine the soil composition. This analysis resulted in the discovery of a variety of soil types ranging from silts and clays, to coarse sands, to volcanic tephra. It was concluded that the lake flow patterns, the introduction of volcanic material from nearby Mt. Veniaminof, and back water resulting from deposition occurring down stream of Black Lake at the Black River's junction with the West Fork River are some of the main contributors for the deposition in the lake.


Cesium 137, Lake Sedimentation, Lead 210, Radionuclide Tracer, Sedimentation, Spectroscopy


x, 67 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 64-67).


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