2016 Undergraduate Research Day

Lead Contaminants Levels in Springfield Missouri Along Road Ways

First place poster presentation winner!

Kelly Rose
Geography, Geology, and Planning
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Robert T. Pavlowsky, Marc Owen

At concentrations of 400 ppm, lead poses a serious risk to the central nervous system and brain development in children. In Springfield, Missouri, there has not been a recent study of the lead concentrations in the soil along and on roadways in residential areas. In this study, several areas of Springfield had samples taken from the soil and road dirt in order to determine the lead concentrations in these areas. Some of the values were high, mostly in older residential neighborhoods, where there is a correlation to the age of the neighborhood and the lead concertation levels. According to the EPA, it is considered unsafe for the public at 1200 ppm in residential areas. The highest level that was tested in this study was site 5.1 at 1,677ppm, which is well above the EPA’s guidelines. All of the samples were gathered from two separate sites, one being a younger neighborhood at the side south Springfield and the other was an older neighborhood in the Roundtree. The research was conducted by using an XRF machine to examine the samples for Pb, Zn, Fe, and Ca. High lead concentrations on road ways can cause the contaminates to run off into stream ways.

Recent Change in River Flood Magnitude and Frequency in the Ozark Highlands, Missouri

Emma Gibson
Geography, Geology, and Planning
Faculty Advisor: Robert Pavlowsky

River flooding is often assumed to vary over time around a mean condition. However, previous research indicates that climate change and human activity can increase or decrease the average and maximum flood stages in a river. Effective planning and conservation initiatives rely on an understanding of changes in flood trends. The purpose of this study was to analyze the flood records for rivers in the Missouri Ozarks to determine if flood characteristics have changed over the last 30 years in comparison to the previous 30 year period. Historical annual peak flows from six USGS gage sites were analyzed for five rivers, ranging in drainage area from 1031 to 5278 km2. PeakFQ software was used to evaluate flood recurrence intervals of 2, 10, and 100 years. 10 and 100 year floods generally increased in magnitude during the last 30 years at these sites, while most of the gages saw a decrease in 2 year flood magnitude. It is important to conduct further study to identify the causes of this trend. However, other river studies in the Midwest along with climate model predictions suggest that climate change due to global warming may be responsible.

Ozark Stream Runoff Monitoring of Forest Lands in Burned and Unburned Landscapes

Joe Nash
Ozarks Environmental and Water Resources Institute (OEWRI), Department of Geography, Geology and Planning
Supervisor: Marc Owen
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Robert Pavlowsky

The United States Forest Service manages the Mark Twain National Forest in southeast Missouri and employs forest rejuvenation techniques using prescribed burning with low temperature, ground level fires to increase soil nutrient levels and reduce competition among brush vegetation. This practice has led to local public concerns that burning is causing excess runoff resulting in persistent flooding which impacts local infrastructure and private property. The Big Barren Creek Watershed (191 km2) is a tributary to the Current River with about 92% forested land cover and 78% being National Forest lands. The purpose of this study is to quantify runoff rates during rainfall and snow melt events by installing discharge monitoring stations along small headwater streams and compare runoff trends among forests that have been burned or unburned. This study describes the initial installation and testing of the gage network including site selection, gage placement, runoff-stage calibration, and runoff hydrographs. Ten staff gage sites have been installed in the upper Big Barren Creek watershed. Gage sites include a staff gage, data loggers, and channel studies including cross-sectional surveys, longitudinal profiles, pebble counts and large woody debris tallies. This study will provide continuous stream flow and water temperature data through 2018.