Ten sites on small South Umpqua River tributaries were sampled for inorganic constituents in water and streambed sediment. In aqueous samples, high concentrations (concentrations exceeding U.S. Environmental Protection Agency criterion continuous concentration for the protection of aquatic life) of zinc, copper, and cadmium were detected in Middle Creek at Silver Butte, and the concentration of zinc was high at Middle Creek near Riddle. Similar patterns of trace-element occurrence were observed in streambed-sediment samples.The dissolved aqueous load of zinc carried by Middle Creek along the stretch between the upper site (Middle Creek at Silver Butte) and the lower site (Middle Creek near Riddle) decreased by about 0.3 pounds per day. Removal of zinc from solution between the upper and lower sites on Middle Creek evidently was occurring at the time of sampling. However, zinc that leaves the aqueous phase is not necessarily permanently lost from solution. For example, zinc solubility is pH-dependent, and a shift between solid and aqueous phases towards release of zinc to solution in Middle Creek could occur with a perturbation in stream-water pH. Thus, at least two potentially significant sources of zinc may exist in Middle Creek: (1) the upstream source(s) producing the observed high aqueous zinc concentrations and (2) the streambed sediment itself (zinc-bearing solid phases and/or adsorbed zinc). Similar behavior may be exhibited by copper and cadmium because these trace elements also were present at high concentrations in streambed sediment in the Middle Creek Basin.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Inorganic chemistry of water and bed sediment in selected tributaries of the south Umpqua River, Oregon, 1998
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
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