Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biosystems Engineering

Major Professor

M. A. Sharp

Committee Members

L. N. Skold, J. R. Fleming


Hydrology is usually defined as the study of the occurrence and distribution of water over and within the earth’s surface and the accompanying basic natural laws and phenomena (2). It treats specifically of the occurrence of water on the earth, the description of the earth with respect to water, the physical effect of water on the earth, and the relation of water to life on the earth (6).

The hydrologic cycle is a descriptive term applied to the general circulation of water from the seas to the atmosphere, to the ground and back to the seas again. The cycle may be considered to begin at any point, but normally the oceans are considered as the beginning points. Water from the oceans is evaporated into the atmosphere. This vapor is condensed by various processes and falls to the earth as precipitation. Some of this precipitation falls directly into the oceans, and some falls on the land surfaces. A portion of that falling on the land is retained temporarily in the soil, in surface depressions, and on vegetation and other objects until it is returned to the atmosphere by evaporation and transpiration. The remainder of the water, moving by surface and underground channels to rivers, lakes, and eventually to the oceans, is also subject to evaporation and transpiration throughout its travels (6).

The foregoing description of the hydrologic cycle is greatly oversimplified. Actually, all phases of the cycle are occurring simultaneously. On a world-wide basis the volumes of moisture involved in each phase of the cycle are relatively constant, but when viewed in terms of a limited area, such as a small river basin, the quantities in any part of the cycle vary through wide limits. These variations are the primary subjects of the primary objects of study in hydrology. For example, a temporary unbalance of the cycle in which great volumes of water are concentrated in the streams results in a flood. Conversely, small or negligible amounts of water in the precipitation phase of the cycle lead to drought (6).

The problem in this particular case is to firmly establish the hydrologic characteristics of the Cane Creek watershed so that any changes in the hydrologic relationships wrought by the application of proposed conservation practices may be detected.

In making such a study, an analysis must be made of past hydrologic records of the watershed, or for some phases of such a study, the records from adjacent areas may be used. These hydrologic records should include records of precipitation, stream flow, and temperature.

By the use of the above-mentioned records the hydrologic characteristics of a particular area, such as the Came Creek watershed, may be firmly established. In the establishment of the hydrologic characteristics of an area, a study is normally made of monthly and annual precipitation, monthly and annual stream flow, rainfall-runoff relationship, storm relationships, and other pertinent relationships that would aid in defining the hydrology of the area.

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