The Source of Sediments in the Neuse River Estuary: Water Quality Management Implications

by Jonathan D. Phillips, East Carolina Univ, Greenville, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '93


Pedological evidence in alluvial floodplains of the fluvial-estuarine transition zone of the Neuse River, North Carolina, shows that very little sediment from the Piedmont headwaters of the basin is delivered to the lower Coastal Plain. This implies extensive storage of Piedmont-derived sediment upstream, and dilution by material eroded from the Coastal Plain. Pre-Holocene sediments deposited in environments similar to those which now exist in the fluvial-esturaine transition do show evidence of a Piedmont sediment source. This suggests that the Neuse is capable of delivering Piedmont material to the estuary, but that under contemporary conditions the Piedmont contribution is overwhelmed by sediment derived from the Coastal Plain and coastal zone. The management implications are that sediment and pollution source closer to the estuary have disproportionately high influences on estuarine water quality, and that upper-basin sources may have minor or negligible impacts on coastal water quality. Efforts to protect estuarine water quality should thus focus on pollution sources in and near the coastal zone.

Subject Headings: Water quality | Quality control | Sediment | Estuaries | Water management | Water pollution | Coastal management | Rivers and streams | North Carolina

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