Collins Lake could help predict future flooding

Research on Scotia lake presented at Mohawk Watershed Symposium

Collins Lake in Scotia could hold the key to predicting future floods along the Mohawk River according to one professor.

Presentations were abundant during the daylong Mohawk Watershed Symposium at Union College in the Olin Center on Friday, March 18, but outside the auditorium there were various posters set up and one addressed studying core samples from Collins Lake, taken in 2000, which led to the discovery of a pattern of flooding in the area. Kaitlin Clark and Donald Rodbell from the Geology Department at Union College presented the research.

This is a very unusual lake sitting right on the floodplain of the Mohawk River, said Rodbell. "It is really one of the only lakes that's got any antiquity that is right on the floodplain."

The drainage basin of the Collins Lake is almost the same size as the lake, but sediment has accumulated in at high rate over the last 1,000 years. Within core samples from the lake, said Rodbell, there were massive, organic rich sediment. Due to the type of organic sediment found in samples, Rodbell believes density-driven undercurrents left the sediments during flooding.

"It provides a really good archive of Mohawk River flooding," said Rodbell.

Core samples were approximately 7 metes long, which did go back around 1,000 years, said Rodbell, which allowed an extensive recording of flooding in the Mohawk to be studied. He pointed to the several light, whiter layers of the core samples and said each of the lighter portions represented a period of flooding,

"This is the longest time series that has probably ever been generated for the Mohawk for high discharge events," said Rodbell. "Peaks that exceed the red line here suggest that the sediments is actually coming out of the Schoharie Valley and out of the Catskills, so we are trying to actually partition which of the sub basins of the Mohawk the sediment is coming out of."

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