Phenomena

Renewing the Colorado River

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The Glen Canyon Dam lies on the Colorado River, upstream of the Grand Canyon. Because the dam blocks sediment from upstream, the region’s only sediment sources are two tributary rivers downstream of the dam. Periodically, the Bureau of Reclamation releases high flows from the dam in order to mimic the seasonal floods that existed on the river before the dam was built. These surge flows pick up hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sediment from the tributary rivers and push it downstream, creating and renewing sand bars and beaches along the Colorado. (Video and image credits: Bureau of Reclamation, 1, 2)

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