Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Richard H. Hawkins


Richard H. Hawkins


Gerald F. Gifford


Jerome J. Jurinak


Peter T. Kolesar


J. Paul Riley


Salt production from micro-channels in the Price River basin of east-central Utah was studied using artificial inputs in order to better define the general sources and processes involved in diffuse source salt release within the basin. An attempt was made to determine what factors are most significant in relation to salt release. The study revealed that the micro-channel systems are highly heterogeneous in relation to salinity. This natural variability tends to increase as the salt content of the channel increases.

The Bluegate member of the Mancos shale was found to be the prime source of salt within the basin. Gypsum was the most prevalent salt encountered. Electrical conductivity was seen to be a significant index of salt and sediment production.

Both suspended solids and total dissolved solids concentrations were observed to increase with distance downstream and decrease with time. A period of quasiequilibrium of concentrations was reached approximately 20 or 25 minutes after the beginning of a run. This was theorized to be the time required for the loose, easily eroded material to be washed away from the surface of the channel. A distance related equilibrium was reached after approximately 800 or 1000 feet (240 or 300 m) of flow length.

Salts loads were found to be relatively insensitive to channel and flow parameters but very sensitive to suspended sediment loads. This suggested that the same processes involved in sediment release also act in the release of salt . A prediction equation was developed to determine the ratio of salt to sediment resulting from some event.

Micro-channels are suspected of yielding seven to ten times the salt concentration and load resulting from overland flow. It was estimated that approximately 3.4 percent of the salt which annually passes Woodside is the result of micro-channel activity.