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Riparian regolith heterogeneity in a southern Piedmont urban watershed

Authors: Dan Royall*, UNC-Greensboro
Topics: Geomorphology
Keywords: urban stream, regolith, southern Piedmont, watershed
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Urban stream environments are often thought of as highly heterogeneous, and this characteristic has commonly been cited as an important cause of variability in stream channel morphology. Environmental heterogeneity along urban stream channels most obviously results from contact with infrastructure, and perhaps less obviously from variability in riparian vegetation and streambank materials. In this paper, variability in the characteristics of urban riparian regolith is assessed within the North Buffalo Creek watershed of Greensboro North Carolina in the southern Piedmont physiographic province. Field-survey and lab data are used to define streambank regolith types, and construct a framework for classifying bank exposures based on their composition and architecture. Particular emphasis is placed on identifying the prevalence, types, and influence of human transported material (HTM) in bank profiles. Spatial patterns in bank material diversity and/or complexity are sought, paralleling emerging interests in studies of spatial order in urban soilscapes related to the organization of urban land use. Among the findings are that 1.) urban riparian regolith properties can in some cases preserve and reflect lengthy land use histories, 2.) human transported material (HTM) is an important but not dominant component of exposed streambank regolith, and 3.) simple architectures predominate over complex ones on a stream-length basis, largely as a result of inset alluvial channel formation.

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