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Sediment characteristics and sedimentation rates in Lake Michie, Durham County, North Carolina, 1990-92

January 1, 1994

A reservoir sedimentation study was conducted at 508-acre Lake Michie, a municipal water-supply reservoir in northeastern Durham County, North Carolina, during 1990-92. The effects of sedimentation in Lake Michie were investigated, and current and historical rates of sedimentation were evaluated.

Particle-size distributions of lake-bottom sediment indicate that, overall, Lake Michie is rich in silt and clay. Nearly all sand is deposited in the upstream region of the lake, and its percentage in the sediment decreases to less than 2 percent in the lower half of the lake. The average specific weight of lake-bottom sediment in Lake Michie is 73.6 pounds per cubic foot.

The dry-weight percentage of total organic carbon in lake-bottom sediment ranges from 1.1 to 3.8 percent. Corresponding carbon-nitrogen ratios range form 8.6 to 17.6. Correlation of the total organic carbon percentages with carbon-nitrogen ratios indicates that plant and leaf debris are the primary sources of organic material in Lake Michie.

Sedimentation rates were computed using comparisons of bathymetric volumes. Comparing the current and previous bathymetric volumes, the net amount of sediment deposited (trapped) in Lake Michie during 1926-92 is estimated to be about 2,541 acre-feet or slightly more than 20 percent of the original storage volume computed in 1935.

Currently (1992), the average sedimentation rate is 38 acre-feet per year, down from 45.1 acre-feet per year in 1935. To confirm the evidence that sedimentation rates have decreased at Lake Michie since its construction in 1926, sediment accretion rates were computed using radionuclide profiles of lake-bottom sediment. Sediment accretion rates estimated from radiochemical analyses of Cesium-137 and lead-210 and radionuclides in the lake-bottom sediment indicate that rates were higher in the lake?s early years prior to 1962.

Estimated suspended-sediment yields for inflow and outflow sites during 1983-91 indicate a suspended-sediment trap efficiency of 89 percent. An overall trap efficiency for the period of 1983-91 was computed using the capacity-inflow ratio. The use of this ratio indicates that the trap efficiency for Lake Michie is 85 percent. However, the suspended-sediment trap efficiency indicates that the actual overall trap efficiency for Lake Michie was probably greater than 89 percent during this period.

Publication Year 1994
Title Sediment characteristics and sedimentation rates in Lake Michie, Durham County, North Carolina, 1990-92
DOI 10.3133/wri944123
Authors J.C. Weaver
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 94-4123
Index ID wri944123
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization South Atlantic Water Science Center