Spatial Distribution and Morphology of Sediments in Texas Southern High Plains Playa Wetlands

Carlos J. Villarreal, Richard E. Zartman, Wayne H. Hudnall, Dennis Gitz, Ken Rainwater, Loren M. Smith


Abstract: Playa wetlands are depressional geomorphic features in the U.S. High Plains. The approximately 20,000 playa wetlands in the Southern High Plains serve as runoff catchment basins and are thought to serve as the foci for Ogallala aquifer recharge. Sediments in playas alter bio-diversity services, may impede aquifer recharge, and increase evaporative water loss. This study evaluated the influence of watershed cultivation system on sediment characteristics in six Texas playas (three cropland and three native grassland). Soil cores were collected by hydraulic probe to 2 m or refusal depth at 25 locations in each playa. Particle size distribution and soil color proved to be adequate to identify recent sediment additions to the playas. Soil color transition from very dark grayish brown (10YR 3/2) to very dark gray (10YR 3/1) was always present in cropland contrast with grassland playas. Particle size distribution was more useful for identifying sediment distribution than in sediment identification. Sediment volume was directly related to watershed land-use with grassland playas having less accumulated sediment than cropped playas.


U.S. Southern High Plains, wetlands, sediment deposition

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Texas Water Journal

The Texas Water Journal is an online, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the timely consideration of Texas water resources management, research, and policy issues from a multidisciplinary perspective that integrates science, engineering, law, planning, and other disciplines. It also provides updates on key state legislation and policy changes by Texas administrative agencies. The journal is published by the Texas Water Journal, a nonprofit organization, in cooperation with the Texas Water Resources Institute, part of Texas A&M AgriLife.

ISSN 2160-5319
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