Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 182, Issue 1, pp 57-71

First online:

Spatial Distribution of Acid-sensitive and Acid-impacted Streams in Relation to Watershed Features in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

  • T. J. SullivanAffiliated withE&S Environmental Chemistry, Inc. Email author 
  • , J. R. WebbAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
  • , K. U. SnyderAffiliated withE&S Environmental Chemistry, Inc.
  • , A. T. HerlihyAffiliated withDepartment of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University
  • , B. J. CosbyAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia

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A geologic classification scheme was combined with elevation to test hypotheses regarding watershed sensitivity to acidic deposition using available regional spatial data and to delimit a high-interest area for streamwater acidification sensitivity within the Southern Appalachian Mountains region. It covered only 28% of the region, and yet included almost all known streams that have low acid neutralizing capacity (ANC ≤20 μeq l−1) or that are acidic (ANC ≤0). The five-class geologic classification scheme was developed based on recent lithologic maps and streamwater chemistry data for 909 sites. The vast majority of the sampled streams that had ANC ≤20 μeq l−1 and that were totally underlainby a single geologic sensitivity class occurred in the siliceous class, which is represented by such lithologies as sandstone and quartzite. Streamwater acid-base chemistry throughout the region was also found to be associated with a number of watershed features that were mapped for the entire region, in addition to lithology and elevation, including ecoregion, physiographic province, soils type, forest type and watershed area. Logistic regression was used to model the presence/absence of acid-sensitive streams throughout the region.


acid neutralizing capacity acidification Appalachian Mountains geology streamwater watershed