Spatial Distribution and Morphology of Sediments in Texas Southern High Plains Playa Wetlands
Vol. 3 No. 1 (2012). Cover photo: Located in far east Texas and stretching into Louisiana, Caddo Lake is known for its extensive forests of bald cypress trees draped with Spanish moss. Photo credit: Texas Water Resources Institute.


U.S. Southern High Plains
sediment deposition

How to Cite

Villarreal, Carlos J., Richard E. Zartman, Wayne H. Hudnall, Dennis Gitz, Ken Rainwater, and Loren M. Smith. 2012. “Spatial Distribution and Morphology of Sediments in Texas Southern High Plains Playa Wetlands”. Texas Water Journal 3 (1). College Station, Texas:1-13.


Playas are depressional geomorphic features on the U.S. High Plains. About 20,000 Southern High Plains playa wetlands
serve as runoff catchment basins, which are thought to be focal points of Ogallala aquifer recharge. Sediments in playas can alter biodiversity services, impede aquifer recharge, and increase evaporative water losses. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of watershed cultivation systems on post-cultural sediment deposition in 3 pairs of cropland/native grassland playas in Briscoe, Floyd, and Swisher counties of Texas. A hydraulic probe was used to collect soil cores to 2 m or to refusal depth at 25 possible locations in each playa. Particle size distribution and soil color effectively identified sediment additions to the playas. Soil color transitions with depth from very dark grayish brown (10YR 3/2) to very dark gray (10YR 3/1) were always found in cropland playas but not in grassland playas. Particle size distribution was more useful in identifying sediment distribution than type. Using a kriging model, sediment volume in each playa was calculated from sediment thicknesses at the sampling locations and from sediment thicknesses interpolated between sampling locations. Sediment volume was directly related to watershed land use with more accumulated sediment in cropped playas than in grassland playas. Erosion of cultivated watersheds near playas contributes sediments that decrease playa depth and can result in increased evaporative water losses and decreased aquifer recharge.

Citation: Villareal CJ, Zartman RE, Hudnall WH, Gitz D, Rainwater K, Smith LM. 2012. Spatial distribution and morphology of
sediments in Texas southern high plains playa wetlands. Texas Water Journal. 3(1):1-13. Available from:


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Copyright (c) 2012 Carlos J. Villarreal, Richard E. Zartman, Wayne H. Hudnall, Dennis Gitz, Ken Rainwater, Loren M. Smith