Exploring the use of ground penetrating radar for determining floodplain function of restored streams in the Gulf Coastal Plain, Alabama
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Accurately characterizing subsurface structure and function of remediated floodplains is indispensable in understanding the success of stream restoration projects. Although many of these projects are designed to address increased storm water runoff due to urbanization, long- term monitoring and assessment are often limited in scope and methodology. Common monitoring practices include geomorphic surveys, measuring stream discharge, and suspended sediment loads. These data are comprehensive for stream monitoring but they do not address floodplain function in terms of infiltration and through-flow. Developing noninvasive methods for monitoring floodplain moisture transfer and distribution will aid in current and future stream restoration endeavors. Ground penetrating radar (GPR) has been successfully used in other physiographic regions for noninvasive and continuous monitoring of (1) natural geomorphic environments including subsurface structure and landform change and (2) soil and turf management to monitor subsurface moisture content. We are testing the viability of these existing methods to expand upon the broad capabilities of GPR. Determining suitability is done in three parts using GPR to (1) find known buried objects of typical materials used in remediation at measured depths, (2) understand GPR functionality in measuring varying soil moisture content thresholds on turf plots, and (3) test methodologies at a remediated floodplain in the D’Olive Creek watershed located in Baldwin County, Alabama. We hypothesize that these methods will allow us to characterize moisture transfer from the floodplain which is a direct function of floodplain health. The need for a methodology to monitor floodplains is widespread and with increased resolution and mobility, expanding GPR applications may help streamline remediation and monitoring practices.