Water chemistry of North Branch Simpson Creek and the Rich Hole Wilderness FireThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
In April 2012, the understory of the Rich Hole Wilderness Area in Virginia including the watershed of North Branch of Simpson Creek (NBSC) was burned in a major wildfire. This fire presented a unique opportunity for the study of effects of forest fires on streams in the Appalachian Mountains. In other locations wildfires have produced changes in soil composition, surface runoff, and water chemistry. As the most dramatic effects of wildfires on streams have been the result of episodic discharge, sampling was conducted May���September 2012 for precipitation runoff events. In addition, synoptic samples were taken in 2012 and 2013 throughout the stream reach. Chemical parameters including pH, acid neutralizing capacity, Na+, K+, Mg2+, Ca2+, Cl-, NO3 -, SO4 2- , Al, turbidity, and conductivity were measured for comparison to previous data sets. A second stream, Bob Downy Branch, was not affected by the fire and served as a ���control��� with samples collected coincidentally with those from NBSC. The paper presents the unique combination of forest timber stands, historic and present day land use, acid deposition, geology, and the fire in the observed water chemistry of NBSC.