Backwater Confluences of the Ohio River: Organic and Inorganic Fingerprints Explain Sediment Dynamics in Wetlands and Marinas

W. I. Ford, J. F. Fox, D. T. Mahoney, G. DeGraves, A. Erhardt, S. Yost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In the Ohio River (OR), backwater confluence sedimentation dynamics are understudied, however, these river features are expected to be influential on the system’s ecological and economic function when integrated along the river’s length. In the following paper, we test the efficacy of organic and inorganic tracers for sediment fingerprinting in backwater confluences; we use fingerprinting results to evidence sediment dynamics controlling deposition patterns in confluences used for wetland and marina functions; and we quantify the spatial extent of tributary drainages with wetland and marina features in OR confluences. Both organic and inorganic tracers statistically differentiate sediment from stream and river end-members. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes produce greater uncertainty in fingerprinting results than inorganic elemental tracers. Uncertainty analysis of the nonconservative tracer term in the organic matter fingerprinting application estimates an apparent enrichment of the carbon stable isotopes during instream residence, and the nonconservativeness is quantified with a statistical approach unique to the fingerprinting literature. Wetland and marina features in OR confluences impact 42% and 11% of tributary drainage areas, respectively. Sediment dynamics show wetland and marina confluences experience deposition from river backwaters with longitudinally linear and nonlinear patterns, respectively, from sediment sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-711
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Water Resources Association


  • backwater
  • confluences
  • marina
  • regulated river
  • sediment fingerprinting
  • sediment transport
  • stable isotope
  • wetland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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