Date of Award


Degree Name

Physical Science


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Ralph Oberly

Second Advisor

James Brumfield

Third Advisor

Michael Little


The Little Coal River, located in southern West Virginia, has undergone many changes over the last few years in an effort to reverse the negative effects of various point source and non-point source pollutions. Marshall University, in cooperation with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Army Corp of Engineers, and the Coal River Group, has designed and implemented a plan for rehabilitation known as the Little Coal Improvement Project. Several improvement structures were strategically installed within the Little Coal River during the summer of 2007. The functions of these structures include sediment flushing and overall habitat improvement. Monitoring these structures and other implementations of this project is to be performed over the course of 10 years. The purpose of this particular study is to analyze the initial findings of data collected regarding sediment, bacteria, and benthic macroinvertebrates. Initial analysis between June 2007 and June 2008, using ArcGIS, indicates the sediment flushing dam structures are functioning properly with a significant improvement of substrate composition. However, results of specific conductance sampling indicate possible elevations in the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), and previous reports have indicated elevated concentrations specifically of aluminum and iron. Potential point source locations have been determined via remotely sensed data using unsupervised classification of false and natural color Landsat 5 and 7 imagery. Bacteria analysis of October 2008 indicates elevated levels of E. coli within the stream and GIS was used to determine possible non-point source hotspot areas of this pollution. However, initial GIS analysis of benthic macroinvertebrate samples between spring 2007 and fall 2008 using WVSCI scores shows no general progressive trend or clustering. Overall, habitat has improved physically but the benthic macroinvertebrate data do not correspond with this finding thus far. Further and continued data collection and analysis over the course of 10 years may be needed to conclusively determine the success of the overall project. However, this study found promising results for the early stages of rehabilitation.


Little Coal River - West Virginia - Madison.

Water - Pollution - West Virginia - Little Coal River.

Habitat conservation - West Virginia - Little Coal River.