USGS

Flow Origin, Drainage Area, and Hydrologic Characteristics for Headwater Streams in the Mountaintop Coal-Mining Region of Southern West Virginia, 2000–01

Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4300

By Katherine S. Paybins

In cooperation with the
U.S. Office of Surface Mining and the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

 

A pdf is available below.

Abstact

Characteristics of perennial and intermittent headwater streams were documented in the mountaintop removal coal-mining region of southern West Virginia in 2000–01. The perennial-flow origin points were identified in autumn during low base-flow conditions. The intermittent-flow origin points were identified in late winter and early spring during high base-flow conditions.

 

Results of this investigation indicate that the median drainage area upstream of the origin of intermittent flow was 14.5 acres, and varied by an absolute median of 3.4 acres between the late winter measurements of 2000 and early spring measurements of 2001. Median drainage area in the northeastern part of the study unit was generally larger (20.4 acres), with a lower median basin slope (322 feet per mile) than the southwestern part of the study unit (12.9 acres and 465 feet per mile, respectively). Both of the seasons preceding the annual intermittent flow visits were much drier than normal. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection reports that the median size of permitted valley fills in southern West Virginia is 12.0 acres, which is comparable to the median drainage area upstream of the ephemeralintermittent flow point (14.5 acres). The maximum size of permitted fills (480 acres), however, is more than 10 times the observed maximum drainage area upstream of the ephemeral-intermittent flow point (45.3 acres), although a single valley fill may cover more than one drainage area.

 

The median drainage area upstream of the origin of perennial flow was 40.8 acres, and varied by an absolute median of 18.0 acres between two annual autumn measurements. Only basins underlain with mostly sandstone bedrock produced perennial flow. Perennial points in the northeast part of the study unit had a larger median drainage area (70.0 acres) and a smaller median basin slope (416 feet per mile) than perennial points in the southwest part of the study unit (35.5 acres and 567 feet per mile, respectively). Some streams were totally dry for one or both of the annual October visits. Both of the seasons preceding the October visits had near normal to higher than normal precipitation. These dry streams were adjacent to perennial streams draining similarly sized areas, suggesting that local conditions at a firstorder- stream scale determine whether or not there will be perennial flow.

 

Headwater-flow rates varied little from year to year, but there was some variation between late winter and early spring and autumn. Flow rates at intermittent points of flow origin ranged from 0.001 to 0.032 cubic feet per second, with a median of 0.017 cubic feet per second. Flow rates at perennial points of flow origin ranged from 0.001 to 0.14 cubic feet per second, with a median of 0.003 cubic feet per second.

Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Description of Study Area

Definitions of Perennial, Intermittent, and Ephemeral Streams

Acknowledgments

Study Design and Data Collection

Characteristics of Headwater Streams

Drainage Areas with Intermittent Flow

Drainage Areas with Perennial Flow

Temporal Variability in Intermittent and Perennial Drainage Areas

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited


 

Use of firm, trade, and brand names in this report is for identification purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. Geological Survey.

 

For additional information write to:

 

Chief, West Virginia District

U.S. Geological Survey

11 Dunbar Street

Charleston, WV 250301

 

http://wv.water.usgs.gov

 

Copies of this report can be purchased from:

 

U.S. Geological Survey

Branch of Information Services

Box 25286

Denver, CO 80225-0286

 


The text and graphics are presented here in pdf format (print quality) (689KB).

 

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