Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Off-site soil erosion has tremendous impacts on the present state of most river systems throughout the United States, contributing sediments to channels mainly as nonpoint pollution resulting from land-use and agricultural practices and leading to sedimentation downstream and downwind, a decrease in the transport capacity of streams, increase in the risk of flooding, filling reservoirs, and eutrophication. A primary focus in examining the problems associated with soil erosion arid ultimately in proposing control measures should be on identifying the sources of the sediment. Therefore, a model that would be able to assess soil erosion needs to start by identifying the sediment sources and delivery paths to channels, link these sediment supply processes to in-channel sediment transport and storage and ultimately to basin sediment yield. This study focuses on the Upper Green River Basin in Kentucky and is concerned with analyzing hillslope erosion rates using The Unit Stream Power Erosion and Deposition soil erosion model (Mitas and Mitasova, 1996) and GIS, and thereby estimating patterns of sediment supply to rivers in order to predict which portions of the channel network are more likely to store large amounts of fine sediments. Results indicate that much of the eroded sediments are redistributed within the hillslope system, but also that a large proportion is delivered to the channel. These predictions have been tested by sampling the fine sediment content of the streambed at key locations along the channel network and comparing the observed patterns to those predicted by the soil erosion model. By linking topographic and soil characteristics with land cover data, it has been concluded that high intensity erosion tends to occur at contact between different vegetation covers, on barren lands and croplands, and 15-25% slopes poorly protected by vegetation. Erosion ""hot spots"" have been identified in the Pitman Creek HUC 05110001-90-130 and 05110001-90-050, both part of the Big Pitman Creek sub-basin, as well as in Mill and Falling Timber Creeks with lower intensity.


Earth Sciences | Environmental Sciences | Hydrology | Water Resource Management