History of suspended-sediment data collection and inventory of available data for the Tennessee and Cumberland river basins

U.S. Geological Survey, Open File Report 88-497

by W.P. Carey, R.T. Brown and C.G. Chatham

This report is available as a pdf below


Since the early 1930’s, a considerable amount of suspended-sediment data has been collected in the Tennessee and Cumberland River basins, primarily by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the U.S. Geological Survey. These data sets cover a wide range of drainage areas and sampling frequencies. The most valuable data sets are those where the frequency of sampling was sufficient to compute daily sediment records.

In 1934 and 1935, the Tennessee Valley Authority established 5 1 daily record suspended-sediment stations on the Tennessee River and its major tributaries. Most of these stations were operated for 3 to 4 years, but nine of the stations were operated for 8 years. From 1962 to 1965, the Tennessee Valley Authority again collected daily sediment record at 10 of the original 5 1 stations. In addition to the data sets collected on the major rivers, the Tennessee Valley Authority has conducted several intensive studies of small watersheds throughout the Tennessee River Basin.

In the Cumberland River basin, daily sediment records have been collected primarily by the Survey. Daily stations have been operate for various periods on 17 basins ranging in size from 0.67 to 1,977 square miles, with the earliest date of daily record being October 1953. All of these daily stations are located in the upper Cumberland River basin upstream of any major impoundments.

Periodic sediment data have been collected by the U.S. Geological Survey at 194 stations in the Tennessee River basin and at 106 stations in the Cumberland River basin, however, the number of samples per station is quite low. Eighty-six percent of the periodic stations in the Tennessee River basin and 91 percent of the periodic stations in the Cumberland River basin have 30 samples or less.

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