The Christina River Basin CZO was established in 2009 as a community platform for research on critical-zone processes, and is based on a strategic partnership between the University of Delaware (UD), the Stroud Water Research Center (SWRC) and numerous other organizations.
The CRB-CZO has the overarching goal of integrating the feedbacks between the water cycle, the mineral cycle and the carbon cycle as materials are transported across geophysical boundaries from saprolite to sea over a range of modern and historical land uses integrated over the entire 1440 km2 Christina River Basin.
Unique Aspects of CRB-CZO:
Piedmont and Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic provinces, and includes satellite coastal sites along the Delaware Estuary.
Unglaciated soils (entisols, ultisols, histosols) over meta-sedimentary lithology (micaceous schist, gneiss, quartzite, marble)
MAT = 12.4° C, MAP = 115.3 cm (1949-2009)
Diverse human land use for centuries.
Drinking water source to a million+ people in Northern Delaware and Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Exceptionally well studied by USGS, SWRC, EPA and numerous local agencies.
PI: Donald Sparks
CO-PI: Anthony Aufdenkampe
CO-PI: Louis Kaplan
CO-PI: Jim Pizzuto
CO-PI: Kyungsoo Yoo
Continent: North America
Study time: 2009 - Current
Average precipitation: 1153mm/yr
Average yearly temperature: 12.4°C
Additional site information:
Our CZO extends over the entire 6
th order Christina River Basin (CRB, 1440 km 2), from first-order streams to tidal and salt-water marshes in Delaware Bay. It consists of 4 sub-watersheds: White Clay Creek (WCC, 277 km 2); Red Clay Creek (RCC, 140 km 2); Brandywine Creek (BC, 842 km 2); and the tidal Christina River (CR, 202 km 2)—that straddle SE Pennsylvania and N Delaware and flow into the Delaware Estuary. Six Intensive CZO Research Catchments
The impacts of three landuse end-members on hydrological, pedological and geomorphological processes will be studied intensively within three 1
st order catchments: mature forest; row crop agriculture; continuous excavation (landfill). In addition, the 3 rd order east branch of White Clay Creek will integrate forest and agricultural landuses over a larger scale, and the floodplains and mouths of the two largest tributaries—Brandywine Creek and White Clay Creek—will be intensively studied as large-scale integrators. Explore these sites with our Dynamic Map. Complementary Research Sites
The Christina River Basin and its four sub-basins may be one of the best studied watersheds of its size in the nation. There are 19 USGS stream/river gauging stations (6 in DE, 13 in PA) and 5 of the PA stations continuously monitor water quality properties (i.e. turbidity, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen). Stroud Water Research Center has historically maintained continuous discharge and other datasets at 3 stations. Non-continuous data collected by USGS and Stroud Water Research Center are available for 141 stations. Weather data has been continuously recorded by 5 USGS stations and a NOAA Climate Reference Network station.
Explore these sites with our Dynamic Map. Geology & Landuse
The Christina River Basin transitions from Piedmont into Atlantic Coastal Plain, the two most populated physiographic provinces in America. The human footprint within the region spans centuries and current land covers include mature forest, agriculture, suburbia, urban, commercial and industrial, providing an ideal natural laboratory to study the gradient of human impacts on critical zone processes. A diverse lithology—ranging from micaceous schist and gneiss to quartzite to marble—is overlaid by deep, unglaciatied soils of diverse chemical and physical characteristics—from Entisols to Ultisols to Histosols. Nearly all stream valleys are filled with 1-3+ m of post-settlement sediments eroded and deposited during and since intensive colonial deforestation, agriculture and mill damming. White Clay Creek is the only entire watershed designated within the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.