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Virginia implemented one of the earliest programs of internal improvements to the US, called The Fund for Internal Improvement, after the American Revolution in 1816. This was due to a sense of urgency within the state to share in the wealth of the newly developed country. To put the program into action, Virginia depended on its extensive river system to facilitate its commercial needs. Emplacement of dams causes a decrease in stream velocity which allows suspended sediments to settle out behind the structure. These legacy sediments can archive changes in land use activities such as agriculture, timbering, and development replaced indigneous stewardship. The goal of this study is to learn about the land use history of the region and determine risks, hazards, and effects associated with the remobilization of these sediments by analyzing these legacy sediments. Maps and other historical data will be used to construct GIS visualizations of past and present land use, and create estimates of floodplain and water level during the various intervals of history in the watershed. Assessing the geochemistry of the sediments and water can help us interpret the possible hazards associated with sediment remobilization and drinking water access. This study will provide a better understanding of how river channels, banks, and waters were impacted by the emplacement and (when applicable) removal of dams, hydrologic impacts of dams, impacts land use has had on rivers/creeks, and how the channel has been altered due to dams and land use.


Dr. Nelson Ham, Geology and Environmental Science

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geology, environmental science, land use, Virginia

Analysis Of Land Use In Rockbridge County, VA From Pre-Colonial Times To Current Day And Consequences For Riparian Ecosystems

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