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Team to study human effect on watershed

(L to R), Don Sparks, Louis Kaplan, Kyungsoo Yoo, James Pizzuto, Shreeram Inamdar, and Anthony Aufdenkampe. Photo: Kathy F. Atkinson (University of Delaware)

19 Oct 2009
News Source: The News Journal, Wilmington, DE

Image: (L to R), Don Sparks, Louis Kaplan, Kyungsoo Yoo, James Pizzuto, Shreeram Inamdar, and Anthony Aufdenkampe. Photo: Kathy F. Atkinson (University of Delaware) [Click image to enlarge]

The narrow creek that runs behind the Stroud Water Research Center has witnessed plenty of changes over the centuries.

Hundreds of years ago, early settlers cleared trees and vegetation to build their homes. Later, the area became a cow pasture. Today, as Stroud scientists restore the forest, the creek bank is dotted with skinny, pale green tubes that protect young trees from strong wind and harsh weather.

The changes can be seen in the soil that makes up the creek bed. Scraping aside leaves and other debris with a small shovel, Stroud scientist Anthony Aufdenkampe reveals a swath that looks like a layer cake -- two lighter stripes separated by a chocolate-colored center strip.

The dark strip of soil is actually the creek bank as it was hundreds of years ago, and the top layer is all of the sediment that has accumulated in the years since -- some of it naturally, but most of it due to human activity.

"The dark layer that was there pre-settlement had probably been there for thousands of years," said Louis Kaplan, a Stroud research scientist who stood in the ankle-deep creek water next to Aufdenkampe. "And then we have a 300- year period when we have this huge amount of sediment on top of it."

Scientists at Stroud and the University of Delaware want to learn more about that sediment, how it got there and where the water may carry it next.


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