Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Geosciences and Earth Sciences
Shruti Lakkaraju - Texas Southern University
Co-Author(s): Maruthi Sridhar B. Bhaskar, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
Over the past 20 years, East Fork Poplar Creek (EFPC) watershed has received wastewater discharges and pollutants from a major US Department of Energy (DOE) facility, which is located in the headwaters of the EFPC watershed in Tennessee. The Hg is a potent neurotoxin affecting the human and animal health. The symptoms of Hg toxicity include neurological disturbance, loss of sensations in the face, bad vision, deafness, loss of coordination, and impaired speech. Water quality changes due to the presence of mercury (Hg) in East Fork Poplar Creek (EFPC) watershed and surrounding watersheds is being analyzed in this study. The objectives of our study are to analyze the temporal land cover changes in EFPC and other watersheds using ASTER satellite imagery and to develop a geospatial database to map the Hg accumulation and distribution patterns in EFPC. The ASTER satellite imagery of the years 2001 to 2013 were and processed for the study area. A geospatial database was developed for Hg accumulation patterns in Redbreast Sunfish (RBSF) and Bluegill Sunfish (BGSF) with the use of Geographical Information System (GIS). Biota-data was downloaded and processed from the Oak Ridge Environmental Information Systems (OREIS) database. From the Hg bioaccumulation data a regression equation (Hg accumulation in ug = -59.7 + 5.16 length + 0.330 weight) was developed to show the correlation between total Hg accumulation, length and the body weight of female BGSF at EFPC. Also a total of 28 water samples were collected from EFPC in summer of 2015 and these samples were analyzed for turbidity and metal concentrations using inductively coupled mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Our results indicated that vegetation cover in the study area decreased from 16637 acres to 16169 acres and the impervious surface cover increased from 2263 to 2631 acres from 2004 to 2007 at EFPC. Our results also indicate that the increase in the impervious area along the Lower EFPC might be resulting in higher turbidity and higher Hg concentrations compared to upper EFPC.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation (NSF); Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
Faculty Advisor: Maruthi Sridhar Balaji Bhaskar, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: 1. Performed statistical data analysis on the biota-data provided by the Oak Ridge national Laboratory. 2. Developed a geospatial database of mercury accumulation in all the watersheds. 3. Downloaded, processed and analyzed the satellite imagery to better understand the land cover changes in the study area 4. Developed a correlation equation using regression analysis for the fish data found in the study area.