The Effects of Land Use on Tumbling Creek Cave in Taney County, Missouri


Holly Neill

Date of Graduation

Spring 2003


Master of Natural and Applied Science in Geography, Geology, and Planning


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Committee Chair

Melida Gutierrez


This study examined the effect of current and historical land use on water quality. The study site is composed of Tumbling Creek Cave, the recharge area of the cave system, and surface streams linked to the cave system. This cave is of specific interest because of the karst nature of the area and the recent implementation of Better Management Practice (BMP). Water quality parameters were measured bi-weekly during one year and consisted of pH, turbidity, water temperature, specific conductivity, total dissolved solids, alkalinity, and chloride. Heavy metals, nutrient and bacteria levels were also monitored during the study. Another component of this study was assessment of stream sediment contamination by analysis of element concentrations that are known to accumulate in stream sediments. The best parameters for monitoring water/stream media were identified, as well as those sites within the recharge area that pose a major threat to the water quality of the cave stream. Effects of land use were most obvious in water quality parameters including turbidity, nitrate, chloride, and bacteria levels. Precipitation events were found to affect the concentrations of these parameters as well. Stream sediments contaminant levels were below the recommended levels within the study area with the exception of arsenic. Arsenic concentrations slightly exceeded the recommended value at the post agricultural and cave sites. Results provide a baseline for the range of values and variability in water quality and sediment contamination levels. This baseline data may be used in future studies to address the effects of water quality and stream sediment contamination on the cave's ecosystem and determine the effectiveness of BMP implemented in karst areas.

Subject Categories

Earth Sciences


© Holly Neill