Direct connectivity between upstream and downstream promotes rapid response of lower coastal-plain rivers to land-use change

Christopher R. Mattheus, Antonio B. Rodriguez, Brent A. McKee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Low-relief fluvial systems that originate in the lower coastal plain and discharge into estuaries are common along passive margins. These watersheds are thought to be disconnected from their termini by floodplains, which buffer the sediment-routing system by sequestration. Here, we present a detailed study of the Newport River, a typical lower coastal-plain system, which reveals high connectivity between watershed and delta. Connectivity is measured as the time lag between initiation of a silviculture operation, which increased landscape erosion, and when the sediment appeared at the bay-head delta. The time lag, measured from aerial photographs and sedimentation rates calculated from 210Pb- and 137Cs-activities in cores from the watershed and delta, is <3 years. Most lower coastal-plain rivers are steeper and have less floodplain accommodation available for storage than their larger counterparts that originate landward of the fall line, which promotes higher connectivity between upstream and downstream.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL20401
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume36
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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