Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 186, Issue 3, pp 1719–1733 | Cite as

Soil erosion and sediment fluxes analysis: a watershed study of the Ni Reservoir, Spotsylvania County, VA, USA

  • Ian C. PopeEmail author
  • Ben K. Odhiambo


Anthropogenic forces that alter the physical landscape are known to cause significant soil erosion, which has negative impact on surface water bodies, such as rivers, lakes/reservoirs, and coastal zones, and thus sediment control has become one of the central aspects of catchment management planning. The revised universal soil loss equation empirical model, erosion pins, and isotopic sediment core analyses were used to evaluate watershed erosion, stream bank erosion, and reservoir sediment accumulation rates for Ni Reservoir, in central Virginia. Land-use and land cover seems to be dominant control in watershed soil erosion, with barren land and human-disturbed areas contributing the most sediment, and forest and herbaceous areas contributing the least. Results show a 7 % increase in human development from 2001 (14 %) to 2009 (21.6 %), corresponding to an increase in soil loss of 0.82 Mg ha-1 year-1 in the same time period. 210Pb-based sediment accumulation rates at three locations in Ni Reservoir were 1.020, 0.364, and 0.543 g cm-2 year-1 respectively, indicating that sediment accumulation and distribution in the reservoir is influenced by reservoir configuration and significant contributions from bedload. All three locations indicate an increase in modern sediment accumulation rates. Erosion pin results show variability in stream bank erosion with values ranging from 4.7 to 11.3 cm year-1. These results indicate that urban growth and the decline in vegetative cover has increased sediment fluxes from the watershed and poses a significant threat to the long-term sustainability of the Ni Reservoir as urbanization continues to increase.


Soil erosion Reservoir sedimentation RUSLE 210Pb Erosion pins 



Revised universal soil loss equation


Land use/land cover


Sediment delivery ratio


Constant rate supply



The authors would like to thank the University of Mary Washington for funding the Ni Reservoir research. We thank Dr. Brian Rizzo for his contribution in the development of the grid-sampling technique, Lisa Cousineau for her assistance in field sampling and to all reviewers whose suggestions enhanced this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Mary WashingtonFredericksburgUSA

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