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A paleohydrologic investigation in the vicinity of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia




Fuertsch, Susan Jane, author
Wohl, Ellen E., 1962-, advisor
Salas, J. D. (Jose D.), committee member
Stednick, John, committee member

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A paleohydrologic investigation of the Shenandoah River in the vicinity of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, was conducted in response to the recent periodic floods that devastate the community. The study reach was approximately 7.5 km long and consisted of thirty-two surveyed cross-sections. Gaging stations established in 1895 at Millville, West Virginia and in 1882 at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia record flows ranging from a maximum of 6,509 m³s¯' , to a minimum of 2 m³s¯'. The average annual peak discharge for a seventy-year water record was 1,244 m³s¯'. Botanical flood evidence preserved as adventitious sprouts, tree scars and eccentric rings were documented in thirty-seven trees. A flood chronology established from these data extended from 1896 to 1955 after which no botanical indicators were found. Botanical indicators did not extend the systematic record, but they did provide an accurate, although not complete, flood chronology. The completeness of the botanical flood record is highly Sedimentological flood evidence was limited within the study area due to the influence of a humid-temperate climatic regime, which is not conducive to the stratigraphic preservation of individual flood depositional units. Human habitation of the area began in 1733; therefore, qualitative historical records were plentiful. Various historical records were cross-referenced to yield the most complete flood history. The correlation between the various sources was extremely high, demonstrating the comprehensiveness of the record. The historical flood record extends from 1748 to the beginning of the systematic record in 1896. The ability to determine accurate flood stages from paleoflood indicators varied highly. Botanical indicators were found to yield very inaccurate and inconsistent flood stages, and only minimum values of flood stage could be obtained from these data. Historical data did yield accurate stages; however, these stages did not necessarily yield accurate discharge values, depending upon the stationarity and hydraulic complexity of the area.


Covers not scanned.
Pages 14 and 80 are missing.

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Paleohydrology -- West Virginia -- Harpers Ferry


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