Type of Document Master's Thesis Author Kreider, Tyler A. URN etd-05122012-021853 Title Rare Earth Elements as a Tracer to Understand Sediment Fate and Transport in Small Streams Degree Master of Science Department Biological Systems Engineering Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Hession, W. Cully Committee Co-Chair McGuire, Kevin J. Committee Co-Chair Buda, Anthony Committee Member Strahm, Brian D. Committee Member Keywords
- stream bank erosion
- sediment fate and transport
- adsorption isotherm
- rare earth elements
Date of Defense 2012-04-23 Availability unrestricted AbstractSediment is a major source of water quality impairment in streams, rivers and lakes in
the US. However, sediment fate and transport in small streams is poorly understood. Previous
attempts to characterize sediment transport often insufficiently represented the physical and
chemical sediment properties and lacked spatial and/or temporal resolution. Therefore, there is
a need to develop better sediment tracers, for which rare earth element (REE)-labeled sediment
is examined as an alternative. The objectives of this study were to: 1) assess the adsorption of
REEs to natural soils and ensure their reliability as a tracer in a fluvial environment; and
2) evaluate the efficacy of utilizing REE-labeled sediment to quantify fate and transport in a
second-order stream during a series of storm events.
Two natural stream bank soils from Stroubles Creek in Virginia were labeled with the
REEs lanthanum and ytterbium. The REEs adsorbed equally to both soils and had minimal
desorption after several washes with stream water. This suggests that REEs form a dependable
natural sediment tracer and sufficiently label natural soils for use in a sediment tracing study.
During two storm events, two unique REE tracers were injected into Stroubles Creek.
These tracers were detected at varying discharges and sediment loads in bed and suspended
sediment samples up to 875 m downstream. REE tracers proved to be an ideal tracer for
detecting sediment fate and transport in a small stream during a series of storm events and hold
great potential for evaluating best management practices and sediment transport models.
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