Mining and Channel Response

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Gold and silver mining activities in the Central City District, Colorado, caused severe disruption of the landscape. Central City is typical of mountain mining towns with clearly defined periods of discovery and settlement, bonanza, investment, development, and, finally, decline. Arroyos and gullies developed on many valley floors as responses to increases in channel tractive force from 1 dyne before settlement to 8 dynes during the mining period. The spatial distribution of energy and force has been substantially altered by human activities. Threshold values of erosive force were surpassed in response to changes in general basin vegetation cover, valley floor vegetation, channel slope, width, and roughness. Landscape stability, which depends on the relationship of the distribution of energy to the material landscape, has been reestablished in some basins in the Central City area. In other cases, several decades may be required before a balance between force and resistance is reached.

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