Assessing and Modeling Sediment Loads from Stream Corridor Erosion along the Town Creek in Mississippi
Author(s): Ramirez-Avila, J.; Langendoen, E.; McAnally, W.; Ortega-Achury, S.; Martin, J.; Bingner, R.
A research study was developed focused on the identification, assessment, evaluation and prediction of streambank erosion processes within the Town Creek watershed (TCW) in Mississippi. The hypothesis of the study was that streambank erosion is an important mechanism driving sediment supply into the streams and an important portion of the sediment budget for the TCW. A combination of in situ monitoring, geomorphic characterization methods and modeling was performed on different locations along the TCW to quantify the contribution of streambanks to stream sediment loads and better understand the processes of streambank erosion. From the results streambank instability was prevalent and highly erodible materials of streambanks are an important potential source of sediment through the entire watershed. Streambanks predominantly lost materials through gravitational failures and removal of failed sediments by hydraulic forces along the channel headwaters. These geomorphic processes could supply a considerable amount of the estimated 1,000,000 Mg of sediment annually exported from the entire watershed. Headwaters were commonly represented as incised channels near agricultural areas. Annual top streambank retreat occurred up to 2.7 m and contributed annual sediment loads ranged from 0.15 to 28.5 Mg per m-stream. Both assessments were based on repeated measured cross section surveys performed from February 2009 to March 2010. The USDA computational model CONCEPTS (Conservational Channel Evolution and Pollutant transport System) was evaluated on an incised reach of TCW to assess model performance and capability to simulate spatial and temporal changes along the study reach. CONCEPTS accurately predicted the time of occurrence and magnitude of top streambank retreat and failures of streambanks along the modeled reach. Results from field measurements and modeling offered important insights into the relative effects of streambank erosion on the sediment budget for TCW. Reduction of suspended sediment loads should focus on the attenuation of geomorphic processes and stabilization of reaches near agricultural lands at the headwaters within the watershed.