Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Katie Price

Second Advisor

Daniel Deocampo

Third Advisor

David Leigh


Stream capture is a major driver of the retreat of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, but timescales of capture are not well understood. This study examines stream sediment geochemistry to establish a set of sediment source fingerprints which can be used to identify and date the capture of the Tallulah River. Statistical analyses show significant differences in U, Th, and certain REE enrichment. These differences result from variations in bedrock along the lengths of each river and a shift in relative stream powers after capture to favor mobilization or deposition of heavy elements. The observed differences should be sufficient to identify where Tallulah sediment appears in floodplains of the capturing Tugaloo River, facilitating future dating of the capture event. Understanding the timing of river capture will provide insight into the ongoing reshaping and redistribution of river systems and interactions of geomorphic processes in the continuing evolution of the southern Appalachian Mountains.