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College of Arts & Sciences
Earth Sciences and Resources Institute (ESRI-SC)

Lake Katherine Dam Geophysical Experiment

The Lake Katherine Dam is an earthen dam in Columbia, SC, that was not breached during the 1000-year flooding event of October 2015. Lake Katherine is part of the Gills Creek Watershed containing more than 70 miles in streams and lakes over 47,000 acres of land. It is one of the largest urban watersheds in South Carolina (Gills Creek Watershed Association, 2005). According to SC DNR, the Lake Katherine region is an upper Cretaceous unit of micaceous and kaolinitic sands interbedded with clay lenses. This represents the fluvial or upper-deltaic environments of the Coastal Plain sediments (Willoughby et al., 2005).
ESRI-SC sponsored a seismic reflection survey that was performed in order to understand the structural and stratigraphic subsurface of the Lake Katherine Dam. Because it was one of the few dams that did not fail during the flooding event, there is much interest in determining why it was not breached.