Quantifying Riverbank Erosion On the South River, Virginia, and its Importance in Assessing Mercury Contamination

Rhoades, E. L., O'Neal, M., and Pizzuto, J.E., 2009, Quantifying bank erosion on the South River from 1937-2005, and its importance in assessing Hg contamination. Applied Geography, v. 29, p. 124-134.

Mercury was released from an industrial source into the South River from about 1930-1950, contaminating the floodplain deposits of the river valley.  We used historical aerial photographs in a GIS framework to quantify rates of lateral channel migration, and aerial LiDAR to determine bank heights, leading to quantitative estimates of volumetric bank erosion and Hg loading into the South River from 1937-2005.

The study area....


 Rates of bank erosion are VERY low, likely due to frequent bedrock exposures in the channel perimeter.....


Hg loading rates decrease downstream, consistent with a historic point source at the plant in Waynesboro at the upstream end of the study area.


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James Pizzuto

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