Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5146
Prepared in cooperation with the
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
Chemical Characteristics of Ground-Water Discharge along the South Rim of Grand Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 2000-2001
View full report in PDF (37.2 MB; includes low resolution version of plate for online viewing)
High resolution version of Plate 1 in PDF (76MB; plate is approx. 33"H x 32"W)
By Stephen A. Monroe, Ronald C. Antweiler, Robert J. Hart, Howard E. Taylor, Margot Truini,
John R. Rihs, and Tracey J. Felger
Springs flowing from the south rim of Grand Canyon are an important resource of Grand Canyon National Park, offering refuge to endemic and exotic terrestrial wildlife species and maintaining riparian areas. Population growth on the Coconino Plateau has increased the demand for additional development of ground-water resources, and such development could reduce spring discharge and affect the sustainability of riparian areas within the park. In addition, springs are an important source of drinking water for hikers and are culturally and economically important to Native Americans living in the region.
Water samples were collected from May 2000 to September 2001 from 20 spring and creek sites that discharge water from the Redwall-Muav Limestone aquifer along the south rim of Grand Canyon. Sample collection sites were described and samples were analyzed for major ions, nutrients, trace elements, radioactivity, and selected isotopes, and potential sources of ground-water flow to the springs. Rock samples representing the major stratigraphic units of Grand Canyon were collected near the Bright Angel Fault and analyzed for mineralogy, strontium-87/strontium-86, and
The chemical composition of water samples collected from a given spring did not vary appreciably over the course of the study. Although water at each spring had a temporally constant composition, the composition was chemically distinct from that of every other spring sampled, indicating spatial variability in the ground-water composition. Most samples had a calcium magnesium bicarbonate composition; a few had a substantial sulfate component. Concentrations of arsenic, nitrate, selenium, uranium, and gross alpha approached or exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Levels in water discharging from some springs. Oxygen and hydrogen isotopic compositions varied little among samples, and for most sites the isotopic data plot close to the global meteoric water line or below the local meteoric water line. Isotopic enrichment indicates fractionation due to evaporation occurs at some sites. The evaporative process may occur prior to recharge or post-discharge. Flow paths are differentiated between the eastern part of the study area where strontium-87/strontium-86 values for water from springs and creeks are more radiogenic than strontium-87/strontium-86 values for water that discharges from sites farther west. Tritium and carbon isotope analyses indicate that residence time of ground-water discharge from springs and creeks ranges from less than 50 years to about 3,400 years. Water with a residence time of less than 50 years is absent at several sites. Discharge of most springs and creeks is a mixture of younger and older waters.
Chemical characteristics of ground-water discharge at springs
Summary and conclusions
Physical and chemical data
This report is available online in Portable Document Format (PDF). If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader, it is available for free download from Adobe Systems Incorporated.
Document Accessibility: Adobe Systems Incorporated has information about PDFs and the visually impaired. This information provides tools to help make PDF files accessible. These tools convert Adobe PDF documents into HTML or ASCII text, which then can be read by a number of common screen-reading programs that synthesize text as audible speech. In addition, an accessible version of Acrobat Reader 5.0 for Windows (English only), which contains support for screen readers, is available. These tools and the accessible reader may be obtained free from Adobe at Adobe Access.
For more information about USGS activities in Arizona, visit the USGS Arizona District home page.
| Please direct questions or comments to the
Arizona Web Team
|AccessibilityFOIAPrivacyPolicies and Notices|
|U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Persistent URL: http://pubs.water.usgs.gov/sir20045146
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Last modified: Thursday, January 10 2013, 06:36:45 PM