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WATCH | NPC students conduct geology study on Bull Bayou for seventh year

by Courtney Edwards | May 15, 2023 at 4:04 a.m.
Students who participated in the geology study, from left, John Satterfield, Luke Hindman, Eli Hutcherson, George Maxey, Landon Williams, Isaac House and Ty Thomerson, are shown in Maxeys lab at National Park College. – Photo by Courtney Edwards of The Sentinel-Record

National Park College students in George Maxey's physical geology class gathered data from Bull Bayou Creek last month for the seventh year of the ongoing study, noticing some differences in the rate of discharge into Lake Hamilton.

The study, to measure the total estimated annual discharge into Lake Hamilton, started in 2017 and has continued every year since, aside from 2020.

"We wanted to look at how much discharge was coming out of some of the smaller streams, and also, how much silt was being carried into Lake Hamilton from some of the smaller streams," Maxey said. "So far, we've looked at Bull Bayou, we've collected data there, and also in Gulpha Gorge."

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A group of seven students first selected a location on the creek, east of NPC's campus, to gather GPS location, water temperature, pH of the water, width of the stream, average depth of the stream and average velocity, according to a news release from NPC.

"Every lake has an essence, which you would call a life expectancy," Maxey said. "And that is how long will the lake last before it fills up with silt? So, this project is about collecting data on how the various streams transport silt into the lakes, and we have many small streams carrying data, but we also have the Ouachita River, which carries a considerable amount of data. And we're kinda curious, statistically, gallon for gallon, which one carries the most silt? And so far, our data is pointing to the smaller streams are actually carrying more silt than the larger streams."

The results of this year's study indicated the creek's discharge into Lake Hamilton was at 848,634,508.02 cubic feet per year, the release said. Based on the data from 2017-2022, calculations for this year were 52% higher than the average for any other year, most likely because of the recent spring rain, the release said.

"This year, we did a data collection after a rainstorm," the adjunct professor of environmental geology said. "That's something that it just so happened, we haven't been able to do. So, this year the stream was really up. And after we ran our numbers, we saw that the stream was actually carrying about 120-130% more silt than in previous years during this one rainfall event."

Landon Williams, one of the students who participated in the study, is a freshman biology major at NPC. He helped with the flow meter to measure the velocity of the stream, he said.

"I've definitely learned a lot about how all these calculations work and a lot about geology, and it's been a good experience for me overall," he said.

With a plan to attend medical school, Williams said the learning experience has been good for him, and he plans to keep up with the project as it progresses with more data as the years go on.

Although Maxey, who started the study in 2017, plans to retire soon, he is hopeful another professor at the college will take over and continue collecting data for years to come, he said.

"But, Dr. (Rebecca) Taormina, our other geologist, she actually did data sample collection with her students this year," he said. "Thrilled about that. When I leave, I'll pass all my data on to her."

Print Headline: WATCH | NPC students conduct geology study on Bull Bayou for seventh year


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