Sediment Source Assessment Using Sediment Fingerprints

Fact Sheet 2018-3008
By: , and 



Sediment is one of the most common causes of loss of stream-biologic integrity, whether in suspension in the water column, or as deposition on a stream or lake bottom. Fine-grained silts and clays are of particular concern because they can degrade habitat and often carry phosphorus and (or) other contaminants harmful to humans and aquatic life. Sediment-impaired water bodies, usually identified by fair to poor macroinvertebrate index scores, are placed on the 303(d) list of impaired waters, where a sediment Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is developed under the Clean Water Act ( In order to effectively manage sediment, it is necessary to identify the sediment sources and locations of “hot spots” of erosion and deposition.

Suggested Citation

Gellis, A.C., Gorman Sanisaca, L.E., and Cashman, M.J., 2018, Sediment source assessment using sediment fingerprints: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2018–3008, 2 p.,

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

ISSN: 2327-6916 (print)

Table of Contents

  • What is Sediment Fingerprinting?
  • Properties of Sediment that have been used as Tracers in Sediment Fingerprinting studies
  • How Are Potential Sediment Sources Identified?
  • What Is Target Sediment?
  • How Can Sediment Fingerprinting Be Used?
  • How Are Sediment Sources Determined?
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Sediment Source Assessment Using Sediment Fingerprints
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2018-3008
DOI 10.3133/fs20183008
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Cooperative Water Program
Description 2 p.
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details