Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Alex S Mayer


We hypothesized that the spatial distribution of groundwater inflows through river bottom sediments is a critical factor associated with the selection of coaster brook trout (a life history variant of Salvelinus fontinalis,) spawning sites. An 80-m reach of the Salmon Trout River, in the Huron Mountains of the upper peninsula of Michigan, was selected to test the hypothesis based on long-term documentation of coaster brook trout spawning at this site. Throughout this site, the river is relatively similar along its length with regard to stream channel and substrate features. A monitoring well system consisting of an array of 27 wells was installed to measure subsurface temperatures underneath the riverbed over a 13-month period. The monitoring well locations were separated into areas where spawning has and has not been observed.

Over 200,000 total temperature measurements were collected from 5 depths within each of the 27 monitoring wells. Temperatures within the substrate at the spawning area were generally cooler and less variable than river temperatures. Substrate temperatures in the non-spawning area were generally warmer, more variable, and closely tracked temporal variations in river temperatures. Temperature data were inverted to obtain subsurface groundwater velocities using a numerical approximation of the heat transfer equation. Approximately 45,000 estimates of groundwater velocities were obtained. Estimated velocities in the spawning and non-spawning areas confirmed that groundwater velocities in the spawning area were primarily in the upward direction, and were generally greater in magnitude than velocities in the non-spawning area. In the non-spawning area there was a greater occurrence of velocities in the downward direction, and velocity estimates were generally lesser in magnitude than in the spawning area. Both the temperature and velocity results confirm the hypothesis that spawning sites correspond to areas of significant groundwater influx to the river bed. (39488 kB)
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