Faculty Publications

Title

Drainage ditches as sediment sinks on the coastal plain of North Carolina

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Coastal Plain, Drainage ditches, North Carolina, Sedimentation

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Physical Geography

Volume

27

Issue

5

First Page

447

Last Page

463

Abstract

This paper examines the role that slope-channel linkages and seasonal variations in vegetation play in explaining spatial and temporal variations in sediment flux through agricultural drainage ditches in eastern North Carolina. We used biannual cross-sectional surveys of drainage ditches to assess erosion/deposition during a five-year period in the headwaters of a small agricultural watershed. Although net accumulations of sediment were observed in three-fourths of the cross sections surveyed, the rate of sedimentation varied considerably from ditch to ditch and cross section to cross section. The ditches were sediment sinks during the growing season in summer and autumn when they became choked with dense vegetation growth, and more hydraulically efficient after removal of vegetation in December during annual maintenance operations. The ditches experienced erosion or modest deposition while the vegetation was dormant during the late winter/early spring. Sediment was delivered to the ditches from isolated gullies that linked the primary source of sediment, soil eroded on agricultural fields, to the channels. Except for these isolated linkages, ditches and fields are largely decoupled. Copyright © 2006 by V. H. Winston & Son, Inc. All rights reserved.

Original Publication Date

9-1-2006

DOI of published version

10.2747/0272-3646.27.5.447

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