Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 225:1860 | Cite as

Comparative Analysis of Metal Concentrations and Sediment Accumulation Rates in Two Virginian Reservoirs, USA: Lakes Moomaw and Pelham

  • Elyse V. Clark
  • Ben K. Odhiambo
  • Matthew C. Ricker


Lacustrine sedimentation and trace metal accumulation are naturally occurring processes that can be altered by anthropogenic activities. Indices of sediment or metal dynamics are important for the management and operational use of man-made reservoirs and their drainage basins. In this study, we compared two reservoirs in Virginia, USA, to quantify the effect of varying watershed characteristics on sediment and metal fluxes. Lake Pelham is a human-impacted reservoir surrounded by agricultural fields and anthropogenic developments, whereas Lake Moomaw is an undeveloped reservoir surrounded by moderate to extremely sloping forested landscapes. Three sediment cores were taken from each reservoir to estimate 210Pb-based sediment accumulation rates, organic matter content, and indices of trace metal enrichment and accumulation. The average 210Pb-based sediment accumulation rates were 0.348 ± 0.053 and 0.246 ± 0.043 g cm−2 year−1 for Lake Pelham and Lake Moomaw, respectively. The sediment trace metal results showed strong correlation with sediment organic content, and both reservoirs had moderate to high enrichment of Cu and little enrichment of Zn and Pb. Overall, Lake Moomaw had relatively low sediment accumulation and metal enrichment. Comparatively, Lake Pelham had significantly greater metal concentrations, which were highest in the upper reaches of the reservoir. Lake Pelham also had higher sediment accumulation rates and higher metal enrichment, reflecting the impact of human development within the greater watershed. Results from this study suggest that urbanization can increase reservoir sediment and metal fluxes, but atmospheric deposition is also important in forested watersheds that have not undergone anthropogenic land-use change.


Reservoir sedimentation 210Pb sediment accumulation Trace metals Enrichment factors 



The authors would like to thank the University of Mary Washington for their financial support during the course of this project and Dr. L. Giancarlo, Sunnan Yoon, and Laura Pilati for their assistance in field sampling and laboratory analysis. The authors would also like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful suggestions on the earlier versions of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elyse V. Clark
    • 1
  • Ben K. Odhiambo
    • 2
  • Matthew C. Ricker
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Crop and Soil Environmental SciencesVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Mary WashingtonFredericksburgUSA
  3. 3.School of Forestry and Wildlife SciencesAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA

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