West West Branch Hydrogeology and Geophysics

Laura Sherrod - 2012

Relating to the Schuylkill Watershed Abandoned Mine Drainage Project of 2011, this project was an investigation of flow losses in the headwaters of the Schuylkill River west of Minersville.  Dr. Chuck Cravotta, a geochemist with the United States Geological Survey stationed in Harrisburg, assisted undergraduate researcher Rick Jayne and Dr. Laura Sherrod in the development of a stream gauging and monitoring program that would define areas of flow loss in the West West Branch of the Schuylkill River over the Spring 2012 Semester.  Several field locations were chosen for stream gauging and water quality measurements. 

Due to low precipitation in the winter and spring months, water flow in the streams of this region were much lower than normal.  Discharge and water quality measurements were taken only twice after the spring thaw of the rivers - 13 March and 18 April.  The first round of measurements indicated flow loss in the northwestern section of the stream channel between stations 4 and 6.  The second round of measurements confirmed these results. 

Map of eight stations designated for gauging and water quality measurements

Chuck Cravotta and Rick Jayne take discharge measurements at station 9
 Visual observations of the stream channel during the April measurement cycle gave a direct view of flow loss as shown to the right, with some sections of the river containing small volumes of discharge and other sections of the river completely dry.  This concrete evidence led to the application of geophysical methods in this section of stream channel to visualize the flow loss beneath the stream channel. 
A series of resistivity surveys was performed over the stream segments where flow loss was visible to constrain the interpretations for the Schuylkill Watershed resistivity surveys.  The results of these surveys pinpoint flow loss in the stream channel.  Remediation of this area would be possible by sealing the base of the stream channel from flow loss. 
The location of flow loss was visible in April 2012
West West Branch Results Environmental Geophysics and Hydrogeology Resistivity
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