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Comparative Analysis of Metal Concentrations and Sediment Accumulation Rates in Two Virginian Reservoirs, USA: Lakes Moomaw and Pelham

Clark, Elyse V., Odhiambo, Ben K., Ricker, Matthew C.
Water, air, and soil pollution 2014 v.225 no.2 pp. 1860
anthropogenic activities, atmospheric deposition, forested watersheds, human development, lakes, land use change, lead, organic matter, sediments, zinc, United States
Lacustrine sedimentation and trace metal accumulation are naturally occurring processes that can be altered by anthropogenic activities. Indices of sediment or metal dynamics are important for the management and operational use of man-made reservoirs and their drainage basins. In this study, we compared two reservoirs in Virginia, USA, to quantify the effect of varying watershed characteristics on sediment and metal fluxes. Lake Pelham is a human-impacted reservoir surrounded by agricultural fields and anthropogenic developments, whereas Lake Moomaw is an undeveloped reservoir surrounded by moderate to extremely sloping forested landscapes. Three sediment cores were taken from each reservoir to estimate²¹⁰Pb-based sediment accumulation rates, organic matter content, and indices of trace metal enrichment and accumulation. The average²¹⁰Pb-based sediment accumulation rates were 0.348 ± 0.053 and 0.246 ± 0.043 g cm⁻² year⁻¹for Lake Pelham and Lake Moomaw, respectively. The sediment trace metal results showed strong correlation with sediment organic content, and both reservoirs had moderate to high enrichment of Cu and little enrichment of Zn and Pb. Overall, Lake Moomaw had relatively low sediment accumulation and metal enrichment. Comparatively, Lake Pelham had significantly greater metal concentrations, which were highest in the upper reaches of the reservoir. Lake Pelham also had higher sediment accumulation rates and higher metal enrichment, reflecting the impact of human development within the greater watershed. Results from this study suggest that urbanization can increase reservoir sediment and metal fluxes, but atmospheric deposition is also important in forested watersheds that have not undergone anthropogenic land-use change.