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Sediment Oxygen Demand in the Lower Willamette River, Oregon, 1994

By James M. Caldwell and Micelis C. Doyle

USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report 95-4196, 14 p., 1 table, 5 figs.

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An investigation of sediment oxygen demand (SOD) at the interface of the stream and stream bed was performed in the lower Willamette River (river mile 51 to river mile 3) during August, 1994, as part of a cooperative project with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The primary goals of the investigation were to measure the spatial variability of SOD in the lower Willamette River and to relate SOD to bottom-sediment characteristics.

The SOD chambers used in the study were open-bottomed, opaque plastic cylinders that were seated and sealed on the river bottom by scuba divers. When seated, the chambers contained 52 liters of isolated river water, which was slowly recirculated for at least 2 hours over 0.225 square meters of relatively undisturbed bottom sediment. These chambers could not be deployed in areas with gravels and cobbles, which represent about 55 percent of the study area above Willamette Falls and 30 percent of the river below Willamette Falls.

Sediment oxygen demand is commonly reported as grams of oxygen consumed per square meter of bottom sediment per day (g/m2/day). The measured SOD rates, corrected to a temperature of 20 degrees C, ranged from 1.3 to 4.1 g/m2/day in the lower Willamette River. The SOD measured above and below Willamette Falls averaged 2.0 and 2.1 g/m2/day, respectively. After adjusting for the amount of bottom material composed of gravels and cobbles, the best estimates for reachwide SOD rates above and below Willamette Falls are 1.4 (+ or - 0.5) and 1.8 (+ or - 0.3) g/m2/day, respectively.

Sediment samples were collected near each chamber and analyzed for percent water, percent sand, and percent organics. The sand content ranged from 0.1 to 6.2 percent and averaged 1.8 percent. The organic content ranged from 1.4 to 9.6 and averaged 5.6 percent. No statistically significant correlations were found between these sediment characteristics and sediment oxygen demand.

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A printed version of the full report is available free (while supplies last) from:

U.S. Geological Survey, 10615 S.E. Cherry Blossom Drive, Portland, OR 97216 (ph: 503-251-3201, e-mail

and (as a photocopy) from:

U.S. Geological Survey, Information Services, Box 25286, Denver, CO 80225 (ph: 1-888-ASK-USGS, e-mail

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