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Open-File Report 2011–1209

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Exposure Research Laboratory

Data Visualization, Time-Series Analysis, and Mass-Balance Modeling of Hydrologic and Water-Quality Data for the McTier Creek Watershed, South Carolina, 2007–2009

By Stephen T. Benedict, Paul A. Conrads, Toby D. Feaster, Celeste A. Journey, Heather E. Golden, Christopher D. Knightes, Gary M. Davis, and Paul M. Bradley

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The McTier Creek watershed is located in the headwaters of the Edisto River Basin, which is in the Coastal Plain region of South Carolina. The Edisto ecosystem has some of the highest recorded fish-tissue mercury concentrations in the United States. In an effort to advance the understanding of the fate and transport of mercury in stream ecosystems, the U.S. Geological Survey, as part of its National Water-Quality Assessment Program, initiated a field investigation of mercury in the McTier Creek watershed in 2006. The initial efforts of the investigation included the collection of extensive hydrologic and water-quality field data, along with the development of several hydrologic and water-quality models. This series of measured and modeled data forms the primary source of information for this investigation to assess the fate and transport of mercury within the McTier Creek watershed.

The visualization of data is an important tool for understanding the trends and influencing variables of an ecosystem. One of the initial efforts for evaluating the hydrology and water quality in the McTier Creek watershed was the development of a digital spreadsheet for systematically visualizing and interrogating selected hydrologic, water-quality, and model data. This report briefly describes the development and application of the McTier Creek Data Viewer. The extensive database incorporated into the data viewer also provides a means for analysis and the development of analytical tools that may provide insights into the water quality within the McTier Creek watershed. One such application was the development of a simple water-quality load model that utilized a mass-balance equation in conjunction with the topography-based hydrological model (TOPMODEL) developed to simulate flow in the McTier Creek watershed. Several variations of this simple load model were developed and are presented in the report.

First posted September 27, 2012

For additional information contact:
USGS South Carolina Water Science Center
Stephenson Center, Suite 129
720 Gracern Rd.
Columbia, SC  29210-7651
Phone: 803-750-6100

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Suggested citation:

Benedict, S.T., Conrads, P.A., Feaster, T.D., Journey, C.A., Golden, H.E., Knightes, C.D., Davis, G.M., and Bradley, P.M., 2012, Data visualization, time-series analysis, and mass-balance modeling of hydrologic and water-quality data for the McTier Creek watershed, South Carolina, 2007–2009: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1209, 21 p.




Purpose and Scope

Description of Study Area

Measured and Modeled Data Used in the McTier Creek Data Viewer

Measured Water-Quality Data

Measured Hydrologic Data

Model Output Data



Load Estimator (LOADEST)

Grid-Based Mercury Model (GBMM)

Visualizing Ecosystems for Land Management Assessment (VELMA)

Features of the McTier Creek Data Viewer

Time-Series and Scatter Plots of Selected Hydrologic and Water-Quality Data

Comparison Plots of Selected Model Simulations


Selected References


Mass-Balance Model



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