Seasonal Variation of Mud Floc Sizes in Two Small Freshwater Streams

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Virginia Tech


Flocculation is not only an important part of sediment dynamics within coastal marine waters, but is also a factor of sediment transport within small freshwater streams in Blacksburg, Virginia. The goal of this project was to develop a relationship between floc sizes and stream characteristics (temperature, salinity, chlorophyll-a, organic content, TSS, pH) and to compare how that relationship varies seasonally and spatially across two streams in the same watershed with a similar drainage area but different land uses within these areas. Microscopic images of flocs and water samples were taken within two local streams every two to four weeks throughout the span of one year. The images were analyzed to obtain the floc sizes and the water samples were tested in a lab for various stream properties. The compiled data from the entire year were analyzed to determine if there was a seasonal relationship between floc sizes and the various properties of the water. The process was also repeated at multiple locations along the entire length of both of the streams once in the summer and once in the winter to see if there was a spatial relationship within a single stream. Our study found that significant rainfall events tend to have the greatest effect on floc size in the small headwater streams. However, many of the individual variables alone do not correlate strongly with floc size and a combination of variables may be the best way to analyze the floc size.



Flocculation, Floc, Chlorophyll-a, In-situ Floc Observation, Floc Seasonality, cohesive sediment