Quantifying contributions to storm runoff through end-member mixing analysis and hydrologic measurements at the Panola Mountain Research Watershed (Georgia, USA)



The geographic sources and hydrologic flow paths of stormflow in small catchments are not well understood because of limitations in sampling methods and insufficient resolution of potential end members. To address these limitations, an extensive hydrologic dataset was collected at a 10 ha catchment at Panola Mountain Research Watershed near Atlanta, GA, to quantify the contribution of three geographic sources of stormflow. Samples of stream water, runoff from an outcrop, and hillslope subsurface stormflow were collected during two rainstorms in the winter of 1996, and an end-member mixing analysis model that included five solutes was developed. Runoff from the outcrop, which occupies about one-third of the catchment area, contributed 50–55% of the peak streamflow during the 2 February rainstorm, and 80–85% of the peak streamflow during the 6–7 March rainstorm; it also contributed about 50% to total streamflow during the dry winter conditions that preceded the 6–7 March storm. Riparian groundwater runoff was the largest component of stream runoff (80–100%) early during rising streamflow and throughout stream recession, and contributed about 50% to total stream runoff during the 2 February storm, which was preceded by wet winter conditions. Hillslope runoff contributed 25–30% to peak stream runoff and 15–18% to total stream runoff during both storms. The temporal response of the three runoff components showed general agreement with hydrologic measurements from the catchment during each storm. Estimates of recharge from the outcrop to the riparian aquifer that were independent of model calculations indicated that storage in the riparian aquifer could account for the volume of rain that fell on the outcrop but did not contribute to stream runoff. The results of this study generally indicate that improvements in the ability of mixing models to describe the hydrologic response accurately in forested catchments may depend on better identification, and detailed spatial and temporal characterization of the mobile waters from the principal hydrologic source areas that contribute to stream runoff. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.