USGS Professional Pages
Research GeologistContact Info
**Please note: Prior to 2014, my name was Amy Draut and most of my publications have used that name. **
Ph.D., Geology and Geophysics, 2003
Massachusetts Institute of Technology / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, Cambridge and Woods Hole, MA
B.S., Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies, 1997
Tufts University, Medford, MA
Research Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Coastal and Marine Geology Program (2006 - present), Santa Cruz, CA
Postdoctoral Researcher, U.S. Geological Survey / University of California, Santa Cruz (2003 - 2006)
(Selected publications listed beneath each topic. For a complete publication list, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Effects of Large Dam Removal on River Channel and Floodplain Morphology
I am studying the removal of large dams on the Elwha River, Washington, and the Carmel River, California. Dam-removal research allows us to understand better how landscapes respond to large sediment pulses, a fundamental and long-standing problem in geomorphology but one that is rarely studied at field scales, because of the unanticipated nature of most sediment-pulse releases. Because dam removal is increasingly used as a means to restore watershed and coastal enviroments, it is critical to understand how physical and biological systems respond to these substantial perturbations. In addition to ongoing studies on the Elwha River and Carmel River, I am one of five Principal Investigators on a USGS John Wesley Powell Center working group that is synthesizing the current state of knowledge regarding dam removal (2013-2015).
Removal of two large dams (64 m and 32 m high) on the Elwha River during 2011-2014 constitutes the largest dam removal to date in the U.S. In addition to restoring salmonid fish access to the watershed in Olympic National Park, dam removal is an unprecedented opportunity to study fluvial and coastal response to large-scale sediment influx. The Elwha program is a major focus for agencies including the USGS, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, whose lands are part of the restoration area. I lead a USGS study of topography and sediment grain size on the lower Elwha River before, during, and after dam removal; our study here began in 2006, using field data and historical aerial photographs in the first comprehensive evaluation of how an anabranching, gravel-bed river responded to losing its upstream sediment supply through damming.
We found that the Elwha River changed substantially as a result of dam removal, with geomorphic changes that were two- to ten-fold as large as those caused by a 40-year flood four years before dam removal. Over the first two years of dam removal, the river moved more than 10 million tons of sediment out of the two former reservoirs, which is a sediment pulse comparable in scale to that caused by the 1980 Mount St. Helens volcanic eruption. On the Elwha River, 90% of that sediment reached the river mouth, with only 10% stored in the fluvial system. This was rather remarkable given that there were no high flows over those two years (no floods even approaching the 2-year peak flow; see East et al., 2015 Geomorphology paper). This suggests that, given sufficient stream power, rivers can efficiently export sediment pulses from a dam removal of this size even without flood hydrology. This, and other findings from this project, will be important information for management decisions in future large dam removals.
East, A.E., Pess, G.R., Bountry, J.A., Magirl, C.S., Ritchie, A.C., Logan, J.B., Randle, T.J., Mastin, M.C., Minear, J.T., Duda, J.J., Liermann, M.C., McHenry, M.L., Beechie, T.J., and Shafroth, P.B., 2015, Large-scale dam removal on the Elwha River, Washington, USA: River channel and floodplain geomorphic change. Geomorphology, v. 228, p. 765–786, doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.08.028.
Draut, A.E., and Ritchie, A.C., 2013, Sedimentology of new fluvial deposits on the Elwha River, Washington, USA, formed during large-scale dam removal: River Research and Applications, DOI:10.1002/rra.2724
Draut, A.E., Logan, J.B., and Mastin, M.C., 2011, Channel evolution on the dammed Elwha River, Washington, USA: Geomorphology, v. 127, p. 71-87.
Draut, A.E., Logan, J.B., McCoy, R.E., McHenry, M., and Warrick, J.A., 2008, Channel evolution on the lower Elwha river, Washington, 1939 to 2006: US Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5127, http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2008/5127/
Aeolian Sand Transport and Landscapes in the Colorado River Ecosystem
Since 1963, Glen Canyon Dam operations have substantially altered river flow and fluvial sediment supply in the Colorado River corridor through Grand Canyon National Park. I study aeolian (wind-blown) sedimentary deposits and landscapes, focusing on the role of aeolian sand in ecosystem development and archaeological site preservation, and the influence of controlled floods on aeolian sand supply and transport in the river corridor. Because fluvial and aeolian sedimentary systems are strongly coupled in an arid region such as the southwestern U.S., the loss of fluvial sandbars in the dammed river reduces the supply of windblown sand to aeolian dunes above the high water line. Where aeolian sand supply has been lost in post-dam time, the ecosystem changes as biologic soil crust and vegetation replace formerly open sand. This study, which included making comparisons between Grand Canyon and a less regulated reach of the Colorado River upstream in Cataract Canyon, Utah, is the first study to show that river regulation by dams affects the evolution of aeolian landscapes up above the river's high water line, demonstrating a newly recognized human impact on arid environments.
Sankey, J.B., and Draut, A.E., 2014, Gully annealing by aeolian sediment: field and remote-sensing investigation of aeolian-hillslope-fluvial interactions, Colorado River corridor, Arizona, USA: Geomorphology, v. 230, p. 68-80.
Draut, A.E., 2012, Effects of river regulation on aeolian landscapes, Colorado River, southwestern USA: Journal of Geophysical Research—Earth Surface, v. 117, F2, doi:10.1029/2011JF002329
Draut, A.E., and Rubin, D.M., The role of aeolian sediment in the preservation of archaeological sites in the Colorado River corridor, Grand Canyon, Arizona: USGS Professional Paper 1756, http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1756/
Draut, A.E., et al., 2008, Application of sedimentary-structure interpretation to geoarchaeological studies in the Colorado River corridor, Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA: Geomorphology, v. 101, p. 497-509.
Landscape Cover, Climate Variation, and Sand Mobility on the Navajo Nation
Native Americans of the southwestern U.S. live on ecologically sensitive arid lands with limited resources. On the 65,000 km2 Navajo Nation, one third of the land surface is covered by aeolian sand dunes. Higher temperatures, reduced precipitation, and the spread of exotic plants are transforming the landscape, negatively impacting residents, many of whom live a traditional, subsistence lifestyle. During the past 14 years of drought, wind-blown sand mobility has increased appreciably and destabilized ground surfaces, endangering housing and transportation, jeopardizing grazing lands, and impacting air quality. I work with the USGS Navajo Nation Land Use Project led by Margaret Hiza Redsteer to study processes that are rapidly altering these lands. We study how aeolian sand transport, vegetation abundance and assemblage, and stabilizing biologic soil crust vary with seasonal and longer-term climatic changes and livestock use.
Draut, A.E., Redsteer, M.H., and Amoroso, L., 2012, Vegetation, substrate, and aeolian sand transport at Teesto Wash, Navajo Nation, 2009–12: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012-5095, 78 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2012/5095/.
Draut, A.E., Redsteer, M.H., and Amoroso, L., 2012, Recent seasonal variations in arid landscape cover and aeolian sand mobility, Navajo Nation, southwestern U.S., in Giosan, L., and others, eds., Climate, Landscapes and Civilizations: American Geophysical Union Monograph 198, p. 51–60.
Sedimentary, Tectonic, and Geochemical Processes of Island Arcs
Island-arc magmatism is thought to be a primary way to generate continental crust. Origin of continental crust is a contentious issue, however, as scientists must reconcile geochemical disparities between most arc volcanism and bulk continental crust. Studying evolution of modern and ancient accreted arc terranes contributes new understanding into arc-continent collision processes, with implications for understanding more about these important systems - both their role in forming continental crust, and, from a geohazards perspective, their ability to generate large tsunamigenic earthquakes. I have worked in accreted arc terranes of Ireland, Alaska, and Taiwan, studying geochemical and sedimentary processes that accompany arc-continent collision. I currently work with legacy seismic data around the Aleutian arc studying sedimentary and tectonic evolution of the forearc evident from sedimentary basin development. By better understanding the structural history and sedimentary environments of the Aleutians, we aim to clarify the risk of great earthquakes and tsunami generation in different regions of the Alaska subduction zone.
Draut, A.E., and Clift, P.D., 2013, Differential preservation in the geologic record of island-arc sedimentary and tectonic processes: Earth-Science Reviews, v. 116, p. 57–84.
Ryan, H.F., Draut, A.E., Scholl, D.W., and Keranen, K., 2012, Influence of the Amlia fracture zone on the evolution of the Aleutian Terrace forearc basin, central Aleutian subduction zone: Geosphere, v. 8, no. 6, p. 1254–1273, doi:10.1130/GES00815.1.
Draut, A.E., Clift, P.D., Amato, J.M., Blusztajn, J., and Schouten, H., 2009, Arc-continent collision and the formation of continental crust - a new geochemical and isotopic record from the Ordovician Tyrone Igneous Complex, Ireland: Journal of the Geological Society, London, v. 166, p. 485 - 500.
Draut, A.E., Clift, P.D., and Scholl, D.W., eds., 2008, Formation and applications of the sedimentary record in arc collision zones. GSA Special Paper 436, collection of 18 papers.
Draut, A.E., and Clift, P.D., 2006, Sedimentary processes in modern and ancient oceanic arc settings - evidence from the Jurassic Talkeetna Formation of Alaska and the Mariana and Tonga arcs, western Pacific: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 76, p. 493 - 514.
Draut, A.E., and Clift, P.D., 2001, Geochemical evolution of arc magmatism during arc-continent collision, South Mayo, Ireland: Geology, v. 29, p. 543-546.
Flood Sediment and Coral Reef Ecosystems in Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii
Terrestrial sediment input to the coastal ocean can threaten coral-reef ecosystems. In Hawaii, sedimentation on nearshore reefs is a concern because changing land-use patterns (urbanization, agricultural practices, and nonnative species expansion) can increase sediment entering coastal waters, inhibiting photosynthesis and smothering corals. Working with the USGS Coral Reefs Project in 2005 and 2006, I collected sediment cores in Hanalei Bay and used them to trace flood sediment delivery. We found that winter flood sediment stays in the bay for months after a large flood event if the wave energy is not great enough to flush sediment out of the bay, highlighting an important difference between hydroclimatic processes in tropical vs. temperate zones. Whereas in temperate regions (like the California coast) floods and wave energy usually coincide, which rapidly reworks flood sediment near shore, in tropical regions the deposition and reworking of flood sediment are often seasonally decoupled. When tropical flood sediment stays near shore for months during summer low wave energy, this can harm coral reefs, particularly if sediment influx increases (land use changes) and/or climate change brings more summer rain to Hawaii, as some models of future climate project.
Draut, A.E., Bothner, M.H., Field, M.E., Reynolds, R.L., Cochran, S.A., Logan, J.B., Storlazzi, C.D., and Berg, C.J., 2009, Supply and dispersal of seasonal flood sediment from a steep, tropical watershed - Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii, USA: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 121, p. 574 - 585.
Storlazzi, C.D., Field, M.E., Bothner, M.H., Presto, M.K., and Draut, A.E., 2009, Sedimentation processes in a coral reef embayment: Hanalei Bay, Kauai: Marine Geology, v. 264, p. 140-151.
PublicationsEast, A.E., Pess, G.R., Bountry, J.A., Magirl, C.S., Ritchie, A.C., Logan, J.B., Randle, T.J., Mastin, M.C., Minear, J.T., Duda, J.J., Liermann, M.C., McHenry, M.L., Beechie, T.J., and Shafroth, P.B., 2015, Large-scale dam removal on the Elwha River, Washington, USA: River channel and floodplain geomorphic change. Geomorphology, v. 228, p. 765–786, doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.08.028. [Download File]
Draut, A.E., and Clift, P.D., 2013, Differential preservation in the geologic record of island-arc sedimentary and tectonic processes: Earth-Science Reviews, v. 116, p. 57–84. [Download File]
Draut, A.E., and Ritchie, A.C., 2013, Sedimentology of new fluvial deposits on the Elwha River, Washington, USA, formed during large-scale dam removal: River Research and Applications, DOI:10.1002/rra.2724 [Download File]
Draut, A.E., 2012, Effects of river regulation on aeolian landscapes, Colorado River, southwestern USA: Journal of Geophysical Research—Earth Surface, v. 117, F2, doi:10.1029/2011JF002329 [Download File]
Draut, A.E., Redsteer, M.H., and Amoroso, L., 2012, Recent seasonal variations in arid landscape cover and aeolian sand mobility, Navajo Nation, southwestern U.S., in Giosan, L., and others, eds., Climate, Landscapes and Civilizations: American Geophysical Union Monograph 198, p. 51–60. [Download File]
Draut, A.E., Logan, J.B., and Mastin, M.C., 2011, Channel evolution on the dammed Elwha River, Washington, USA: Geomorphology, v. 127, p. 71–87. [Download File]
Draut, A.E., Clift, P.D., Amato, J.M., Blusztajn, J., and Schouten, H., 2009, Arc-continent collision and the formation of continental crust—a new geochemical and isotopic record from the Ordovician Tyrone Igneous Complex, Ireland: Journal of the Geological Society, London, v. 166, p. 485–500; doi: 10.1144/0016-76492008-102 [Download File]
Draut, A.E., Bothner, M.H., Field, M.E., Reynolds, R.L., Cochran, S.A., Logan, J.B., Storlazzi, C.D., and Berg, C.J., 2009, Supply and dispersal of seasonal flood sediment from a steep, tropical watershed—Hanalei Bay, Kaua’i, Hawai’i, USA: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 121, p. 574–585; doi: 10.1130/B26367.1 [Download File]
Draut, A.E., Hart, P.E., Lorenson, T.D., Ryan, H.F., Wong, F.L., Sliter, R.W., and Conrad, J.E., 2009, Late Pleistocene to Holocene sedimentation and hydrocarbon seeps on the continental shelf of a steep, tectonically active margin, southern California, USA: Marine Geophysical Researches, v. 30, p. 193–206, doi:10.1007/s11001-009-9076-y [Download File]
<span style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:" times="" new="" roman";="" mso-fareast-font-family:"times="" roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"times="" mso-ansi-language:en-us;mso-fareast-language:en-us"=""><br></span></p> <p></p>
My USGS Science Strategy AreasUnderstanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change
A National Hazard, Risk, and Resilience Assessment Program
My research largely focuses on how landscapes respond to changes in sediment supply. This is a broad problem with myriad applications for fundamental understanding of earth-surface processes and for resource management. I have addressed this problem in modern and ancient systems. In modern sedimentary systems, I have studied coastal and continental-shelf response to sediment delivery from river sources. Since the early 2000s I have also studied sediment-supply changes caused by anthropogenic dam emplacement and dam removal. These studies of landscape response to sediment pulses and sediment starvation have important implications for ecosystems and archaeological resources. In ancient systems, my work has focused on sediment-supply changes caused by tectonic events, namely the collision of oceanic arcs with continents. In addition to using such findings to better understand how continental crust forms, I have synthesized information from my and others’ work to demonstrate how the oceanic-arc sedimentary record is preserved and altered over time.
Editorial roles and other service:
Co-Editor-In-Chief, Marine Geophysical Research, 2010–2015
Lead editor of Geological Society of America Special Paper 436: Draut, A.E., Clift, P.D., and Scholl, D.W. (eds.), 2008, Formation and applications of the sedimentary record in arc collision zones: collection of 18 papers, 435 p.
Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology division panel member, Geological Society of America, 2014 - present
Research Grants Committee, Geological Society of America (Member, 2005 - 2008; Chair, 2008; Member, 2011 - 2014)
Grants and awards:
2009 SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology) James Lee Wilson Award for excellence in sedimentary geology by a young scientist
2001 - 2003 Clare Booth Luce Fellow, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
400 Natural Bridges Drive
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
831-427-4748 - Fax
Back to top