Sediment Runoff Fingerprinting Using Pollen

Student Author(s)

Austin Homkes

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Graham Peaslee

Document Type


Event Date



Lake Macatawa is a hypereutrophic flooded river mouth in southwest Michigan. The lake has very high amounts of nutrientrich sediment from non-point sources throughout the watershed. The Macatawa watershed project seeks to identify where the non-point sediment sources are and manage those areas of the watershed that produce the most runoff sediment. Forty-six sediment collectors were placed in rivers, creeks and ditches throughout the watershed. In this way sediment was collected in peak runoff periods when a high amount of sediment was being washed off of the surrounding land. As a part of the sediment fingerprinting analysis, the project seeks to identify the non-point sediment sources with biologicals, specifically pollen grains. Pollen is extracted from sediment collected throughout the watershed. Using a scanning electron microscope, the pollen is identified by plant type, plant genus, or plant species. Proportions of pollen grain type are compared to vegetation proportions upstream of the sediment collector to identify source locations.

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