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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Monitoring and Research Activities in the Goodwin Creek Experimental Watershed
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  Goodwin Creek Experimental Watershed is a 21.3 km2 watershed near Batesville, Mississippi. The watershed is located in the bluff hills of the Yazoo River basin of northern Mississippi, with the outlet at longitude 89o 54' 50" W and latitude 34o 13' 55" N.  The watershed is organized and instrumented for conducting extensive research on upstream erosion, stream erosion and sedimentation, and watershed hydrology. Land use and management practices that influence the rate and amount of sediment delivered to streams from the uplands range from timbered areas to row crops. About 13 percent of the watershed total area is under cultivation and the rest in idle pasture and forest land.

  Data collection is directed towards providing information needed to test physical concepts and mathematical models of watershed runoff, streamflow, and sediment transport processes. The watershed is divided into fourteen nested subcatchments with a flow measuring flume constructed at each of the drainage outlets. The drainage areas above these stream gaging sites range from 1.6 to 21.3 km2. Terrain elevation ranges from 71 to 128 m above mean sea level, with an average channel slope of 0.004 in Goodwin Creek. Twenty nine standard recording rain gages are uniformly located within and just outside the watershed. The average annual rainfall during 1982-1992 from all storms was 1440 mm and the mean annual runoff measured at the watershed outlet was 14x106 m3. The measuring flumes are designed to operate in the supercritical regime to prevent deposition of sediment in the flumes. Instrumentation at each gaging site includes an electronic data acquisition and radio telemetry system that collects, stores and transmits the data to a central computer at the NSL for processing and archival. Measurements collected at each site and transmitted through the telemetry system include water stage, accounting of automatically pumped sediment samples, air and water temperature, precipitation, and climatological parameters. Sampling of total sediment loads is carried out during storm events at selected stations using Helley-Smith bedload samplers and DH-48 depth-integrating suspended sediment samplers.

  Periodic acquisition of aerial photography and satellite data contribute to complete aerial coverage of land use and surface conditions. Geographic Information Systems are used to incorporate the spatially distributed data in relational databases. These systems provide a convenient and accessible database for use in watershed analysis and modeling. A comprehensive documentation of the Goodwin Creek Experimental Watershed and the database compiled for the period 1982-1993 are available for downloading from the NSL computer system at the following link:

  Since NSL began operating the Goodwin Creek Experimental Watershed in 1981, hundreds of publications and reports have been published on research related to this project. These publications are the outcome of many specialized research studies conducted on the watershed by NSL scientists, usually in cooperation with researchers from other ARS locations, Federal and state agencies, and universities. They cover the areas of hydrometeorology, land surface processes, gully erosion, sediment transport, fluvial geomorphology, stream restoration and stabilization, watershed system analysis, and computational modeling. Several ongoing projects are described in the following websites:

Point of Contact:

Dr. Seth Dabney


Last Modified: 2/19/2014