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A multifaceted approach to assessing the conductance of stream channels in an AMD impacted region 

Kadegis, J., Sherrod, L., Cravotta, C., Musa, D., Hillegas, L., Levine, L., Franz, T. 2013. A multifaceted approach to assessing the conductance of stream channels in an AMD impacted region. Proceedings of the Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems (SAGEEP 13), Denver, CO, (17 March 21 March 2013).

          Laura Sherrod AMD research

Streams crossing abandoned underground mines in the upper Schuylkill River Basin frequently lose water and may stop flowing because of streambed leakage to the mines, while perennial streamflow is sustained downstream by abandoned mine drainage (AMD) that contaminates the river. To sustain aquatic ecosystems in this area streamflow must be restored. Water quality and discharge measurement stations were established at several locations along the West West Branch of the Schuylkill River headwaters near Forestville, Pennsylvania in the spring of 2012.  Locating sites of streambed flow loss is difficult because leakage may not take place at discrete sites and could vary with flow conditions. Although flow is perennial in upstream reaches of this channel, downstream segments experience intermittent flow. A section of stream with measured flow loss was further investigated with geophysical methods in a CUASHI-funded undergraduate research venture.  The geophysical survey area consists of a 500-m long and 10-m wide channel. Several methods were performed in the study: resistivity (dipole-dipole array with an electrode spacing of 5m), EM (EM-34, GEM2, Dualem-1S), discharge analysis, mass balance using sulfate anions as a tracer, and local stream bed and water temperature. Resistivity and EM methods were used to pinpoint areas of low subsurface conductivity which may relate to seeps linking the stream to the underground mine pool.  As these seeps may provide transport mechanisms for water flowing into or out of the stream, areas of low conductivity were then further investigated with discharge measurements to quantify spatial and temporal variations in flow and water chemistry along the 1.5 km stream segment.  Likewise, stream bed temperature measurements provide confirmation of upwelling and downwelling at points along the stream channel. The results of this investigation serve to guide future remediation efforts at the site.

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Kurt Friehauf - June 2013