research

Mountain Streams
 
Geology as destiny: where does the water come from?
Gordon Grant, Anne Jefferson, Christina Tague, Sarah Lewis, Michael Farrell

Water resource management is rapidly becoming an important issue throughout the Pacific Northwest. Increasing and often competing demands for water for agricultural, urban and aquatic habitat requirements, highlight the critical importance of understanding flow regimes and their sensitivity to climate and land use change. This study focuses on the McKenzie River, a major tributary of the Willamette River.

In the McKenzie watershed, the source of most of the available water is the Cascade Mountains, which include two distinct geologic provinces: the High and Western Cascades. Preliminary analysis of High and Western Cascades in terms of seasonal- and event-based hydrographs suggests that these are dramatically different systems. Consequently, during the summer, the High Cascade systems contribute disproportionately to the maintenance of discharge volumes and stream temperature. Our analysis suggests that most of the water in the High Cascade systems comes from spring fed rather than shallow sub-surface flow. The dynamics of these springs, however, have not been well studied.

In this research, we undertake a comprehensive study of High Cascade spring systems using a combination of field data collection, empirical analysis and process based modeling. We are investigating the timing and source of water for several springs within the McKenzie and developing a mechanistic understanding of differences between spring and shallow subsurface water dominated catchments and their sensitivity to climate and land use change. Results from this project will contribute to our understanding of High Cascade spring systems and highlight implications for water resource management in this region.

In Summer of 2003, Oregon Public Broadcasting's Oregon Field Guide filmed a segment on our research, High Cascade Springs. It originally aired on November 20, 2003 at 8:30PM and November 23, 2003 at 6:30PM. Click here to see a short animation developed for the segment on groundwater flow in the High Cascades. You may need to download Quicktime.

PDF of powerpoint presentation to EWEB (March 17, 2005)

 

Publications

Farley, K.A., Tague, C. and Grant, G.E. 2011. Vulnerability of water supply from the Oregon Cascades to changing climate: Linking science to users and policy. Global Environmental Change. DOI: 10.1016/j.glonvcha.2010.09.011

Jefferson, A., Grant, G., Lewis, S. and Lancaster, S., 2010. Coevolution of hydrology and topography on a basalt landscape in the Oregon Cascade Range, USA. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. DOI: 10.1002/esp.1976. 14p.

Tague, C. and Grant, G. 2009. Groundwater dynamics mediate low flow response to global warming in snow-dominated alpine regions. Water Resources Research, vol.45, W07421, doi:10/1029/2008WR007179. 12p.

Jefferson, A., Nolin, A., Lewis, S., and Tague, C., 2008. Hydrogeologic controls on streamflow sensitivity to climatic variability, Hydrological Processes, 22: 4371–4385 DOI: 10.1002/hyp.7041.

Tague, C., Farrell, M., Grant, G. Choate, J., and Jefferson A. 2008. Deep groundwater mediates streamflow response to climate warming in the Oregon Cascades, Climatic Change 86: 189-210.

Grant, G., Jefferson, A., Lewis, S., Tague, C., and Farrell, M. 2007. Discharge, source areas, and water ages of spring-fed streams and implications for water management in the McKenzie River Basin. Report to Eugene Water and Electric Board, April 9, 2007.

October 2007 (Issue 97): Thompson, Jonathan with Gordon Grant 2007. Running Dry: Where will the West get its water? Science Findings. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. September (97): 6 p.

Jefferson, A., Grant, G., and Lewis, S., 2007. A river runs underneath it: geological control of spring and channel systems and management implications, Cascade Range, Oregon. In M.J. Furniss, C.F. Clifton, and K.L. Ronnenberg, eds. Advancing the Fundamental Sciences: proceedings of the Forest Service national earth sciences conference. PNW-GTR-689. Portland, OR: U.S.D.A. Forest Service, PNW Research Station. p391-400.

Tague, C., Farrell, M., Grant, G. Lewis, S. and Rey, S. 2007. Hydrogeologic controls on summer stream temperatures in the McKenzie River basin, Oregon, Hydrologic Processes 21: 3288–3300.

Grant, G., Jefferson, A., Lewis, S., and Tague, C. 2006. Discharge, source areas, and water ages of spring-fed streams and implications for water management in the McKenzie River Basin. Report to Eugene Water and Electric Board, February 3, 2006.

Jefferson A., G. Grant, and T. Rose, 2006. Influence of volcanic history on groundwater patterns on the west slope of the Oregon High Cascades, Water Resources Research, Vol. 42, W12411, doi:10.1029/2005WR004812

Jefferson A., 2006. Hydrology and Geomorphic Evolution of Basaltic Landscapes, High Cascades, Oregon, PhD Dissertation, Oregon State University, 180p.

Grant, G., Jefferson, A and Lewis, S., 2004. Discharge, source areas, and water ages of spring-fed streams and implications for water management in the McKenzie River Basin. Report to Eugene Water and Electric Board, April 14, 2004.

Tague, C. and Grant, G.E., 2004. A geological framework for interpreting the low flow regimes of Cascade streams, Willamette River Basin, Oregon. Water Resources Research, 40, W04303, doi:10.1029/2003WR002629.

December 2002 (Issue 49): Duncan, Sally with Gordon Grant. 2002. Geology as destiny: cold waters run deep in western Oregon. Science Findings. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. December (49): 6 p.

Earliest Reference Found: Stearns, Harold T., 1929. Geology and Water Resources of the Upper McKenzie Valley, Oregon. USGS Water Supply Paper 597-D, Washington DC, 20p. more from Stearns, Harold T., 1942. Hydrology of Volcanic Terranes, in Physics of the Earth - IX Hydrology. O.E. Meinzer, ed. p678

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for information contact lewissa@for.orst.edu
page last updated February 23, 2012