Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Chair

Dr. Franklin Heitmuller

Committee Chair Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Omar Harvey

Committee Member 2 Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Carl Reese

Committee Member 3 Department

Geography and Geology

Abstract

Forestry and related businesses are an important factor of Mississippi’s economy, contributing between $11 and $14 billion annually (Mississippi Forestry Commission, 2006). The timber industry is not only important in Mississippi but is an important sector of the economy throughout the Gulf Coast region. While providing positive economic benefits to the region, the forestry industry can also negatively affect soil properties, hillslope stability, and increase sedimentation rates in local streams and rivers. The aim of this research is to determine if forestry removal causes an increase of soil erosion and how it affects floodplain sedimentation in the low gradient watershed Whiskey Creek, located in DeSoto National Forest. Using the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) to model and predict sediment erosion, and the use of historical aerial photographs to determine exact locations of forestry removals, the RUSLE model predicted 10 times more erosion during periods of logging compared to natural conditions. Radiometrically dated sediment was used to determine the sediment accumulation rates of Whiskey Creek and was compared to a predicted sedimentation rate produced by three different land clearance scenarios using the RUSLE model. Of the three scenarios suggested, the most severe model provided the best results when compared to the measured sediment accumulation rate.

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