Alluvial Chronology, Geomorphology and Contamination of Flood Plains in the Middle James River

Principle investigators

  • Dr. Robert T. Pavlowsky and Marc R. Owen
  • Graduate Assistant - Patrick Womble

Related publication

Project scope

The study involves the geospatial and subsurface investigation of the properties, distribution, and metal contamination of alluvial deposits in the Middle James River Valley from the Pearson Creek Confluence, through Lake Springfield, past the Wilson Creek confluence, and ending at the Finley Creek confluence. Floodplains act as both a source and sink of sediment and sediment-bound pollutants in river systems. Previous research has identified high levels of metals including lead, zinc, and mercury in floodplain deposits below the historical mining areas on Pearson Creek and in active sediments and floodplains along Wilson Creek. Understanding the landform distribution, age, sediment budget, and contamination distribution will offer insights into the geography and timescales of sedimentation and floodplain erosion and the role that bank erosion plays in supplying sediment and other nonpoint pollutants to Ozark rivers.

Project goals

  1. Describe the timing and distribution of historical floodplain deposits along the James River using relative dating techniques including: identification of buried soils, extent of mining contaminated sediments, and the presence of Cesium-137 in recent sediments,
  2. Correlate floodplain sedimentation to historical land use patterns to understand geomorphic response to watershed-scale disturbance, and
  3. Relate the current channel morphology and hydrology characteristics to historical channel processes that have implications to stream management decisions

Project funding

Ozarks Environmental and Water Resources Institute Start-Up Workplan Year-2: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2007

Project documents

View Information on Patrick Womble's Thesis Research

View a PDF of Patrick Womble's Thesis

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