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Water 2015, 7(6), 3123-3148; doi:10.3390/w7063123

Controls on Suspended Sediment Concentrations and Turbidity within a Reforested, Southern Appalachian Headwater Basin

Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723, USA
Geology Department, Wichita State University, 1845 Fairmount, Wichita, KS 67260, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Miklas Scholz
Received: 15 May 2015 / Revised: 9 June 2015 / Accepted: 15 June 2015 / Published: 19 June 2015
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Water quality data collected between 2007 and 2014 within the Allen Creek Watershed were used to: (1) determine the factors controlling the temporal variations in turbidity and suspended sediment concentration (SSC) within a representative, high-gradient headwater basin in the Southern Appalachians; and (2) assess the recovery of water quality following extensive logging operations during the early to mid-1900s. Regression analysis suggests that suspended sediment is primarily derived from upland areas and variations in concentration reflect rainfall intensity and total event precipitation. Overall, SSC and turbidity were low in stream waters in comparison to both reference values for stable streams and more developed basins in the region. Some floods were characterized by high SSC values, but limited turbidity and vice versa. Differences in measured SSC and turbidity between storms reflect different controls on the two parameters, and the apparent influence of natural organic matter on turbidity during rainfall events that are incapable of transporting sediment to the channel via overland flow. Low SSC and turbidity values are presumably related to the reforestation of hillslopes and riparian buffers following the cessation of logging operations. They also are due to a historical reduction in the sedimentological connectivity of hillslopes and tributaries with the axial channel that occurred during logging operations. View Full-Text
Keywords: suspended sediment concentration; turbidity; watershed recovery; Southern Appalachians suspended sediment concentration; turbidity; watershed recovery; Southern Appalachians

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Miller, J.R.; Sinclair, J.T.; Walsh, D. Controls on Suspended Sediment Concentrations and Turbidity within a Reforested, Southern Appalachian Headwater Basin. Water 2015, 7, 3123-3148.

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