The Cullowhee Creek Environmental Field Station (CCEFS), a portion of campus that is the focus of most investigations (Figure 2), consists of fixed-position hydrologic stations, and portable geophysical and hydrologic equipment to study the site. The equipment permits students to measure, monitor, and characterize the environmental systems on campus.
Tools and approaches used in characterizing the field station are also used to address questions outside the Cullowhee Creek watershed, particularly in upper level classes and independent research projects.
A website for the CCEFS serves as a communication tool, providing access to equipment protocols, conceptual background information and links, maps, and archived and newly acquired data.
Hydrologic stations include three groundwater wells, a stream gage, and an automated weather station. Each well and the stream gage contain water-level loggers (pressure transducers) that continuously monitor water levels. Portable hydrologic equipment includes a logging multiprobe (temperature, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity), standard hand-held probes (e.g. temperature, pH, conductivity), current meters, groundwater bailers and pumps, and spectrophotometers (Table 1).
Effective characterization of the stream, and particularly the groundwater systems on campus requires an understanding of the surface and subsurface materials and structure. Surface exposures of bedrock and soil are evaluated by students using traditional tools (e.g., hammer, soil probe, etc.) to make observations and descriptions. Lithologic logs, from the drilling of the groundwater wells, provide spot information on subsurface materials.
Several geophysical tools—including seismic, resistivity, ground penetrating radar and magnetics (Table 1)—permit better three-dimensional characterization of subsurface parameters such as
depth to bedrock or the groundwater table. Each of these tools has strengths and limitations
so that the combined methods provide a better understanding of subsurface parameters
than any individual method. Geophysical equipment includes a SmartSeis 12 channel
seismograph with refraction analysis software, a Sting R1 resistivity meter with 800m
of cable and 2D inversion software, a Ramac ground penetrating radar system with 50,
100 and 200 MHz antennae, and an E G & G proton precession magnetometer.