Investigating spatial variations in sediment origin using a streamlined sediment fingerprinting approach in a southern Piedmont watershed
McKinley, Robert Ashley
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Sediment fingerprinting is a relatively recent technique capable of determining the origin of suspended sediment. The objective of this study was to examine spatial variations in the origin of suspended sediments and to test a streamlined fingerprinting approach which would reduce the cost. Samples were collected from three tributaries, the outlet of the main stem, and at the middle of the main stem. Two methods to collect suspended sediment samples were compared: a mobile continuous flow centrifuge and automated samplers. A relatively small initial tracer suite consisting of 15N, 13C, TN, and TC was employed in tracer selection. Results using a multivariate mixing model showed that banks contributed the majority of sediment throughout all locations sampled. The use of the streamlined approach should allow for the adoption of sediment fingerprinting as an operational tool for state agencies in the Southern Piedmont wishing to utilize it in TMDL/BMP evaluations.