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Current research projects

Groundwater and nutrient flux in an ephemeral stream
In modeling instream fate and transport of nutrients, it is important to understand potential sinks and sources. Earlier work by researchers at TIAER indicated a potential uptake of phosphorus within the mainstem system at low to moderate flows that appears to be released when higher flows occur. There is speculation based on the fact that high phosphorus concentrations are often associated with baseflow samples that headwater reaches may also play an important role in groundwater/surface water interactions with phosphorus. This study was conducted to determine if groundwater acts as a source or sink of soluble phosphorus for a second order headwater reach. This evaluation was conducted using shallow bank wells and instream piezometers to evaluate groundwater elevation gradients with respect to surface water levels. A mass balance approach using tracer studies at low flows and storm monitoring at higher flows was used to evaluate phosphorus losses or gains along the reach. Phosphorus concentrations in sediments collected when the bank wells were constructed were evaluated for horizontal gradients. Additional streambank and streambed sediment samples were also analyzed to help determine the potential for phosphorus movement between sediment and the water column. Results from this study will be used to inform the model refinement effort with regard to characterizing instream fate and transport of phosphorus.


Evaluation of spring-fed wetlands in East Texas
Very little information exists about the geomorphic setting, hydrodynamics, or water chemistry of the wetlands in this region of the country. Such questions are important because the hydrologic, geologic, geomorphologic, and biologic processes interact to create the wetland ecosystems. The geologic setting, when combined with the hydrology, is key to the character of the soils in which the wetland plants are rooted. An understanding of the geologic and geomorphic framework is critical to development of decision-support systems, which will help manage complex wetland dynamics. The objectives of this study are to define the hydrology of hillslope bogs in the Gus Engeling area. Within that goal there are several specific objectives including determination of the hydrogeomorphic setting, the age and geologic history of these hillslope bogs.

Past Research Projects