Water-table elevation measurements and aquifer parameter estimates are rare in alpine settings because few wells exist in these environments. Alpine groundwater systems may be a primary source of recharge to regional groundwater flow systems. Handcart Gulch is an alpine watershed in Colorado, USA comprised of highly fractured Proterozoic metamorphic and igneous rocks with wells completed to various depths. Primary study objectives include determining hydrologic properties of shallow bedrock and surficial materials, developing a watershed water budget, and testing the consistency of measured hydrologic properties and water budget by constructing a simple model incorporating groundwater and surface water for water year 2005. Water enters the study area as precipitation and exits as discharge in the trunk stream or potential recharge for the deeper aquifer. Surficial infiltration rates ranged from 0.1-6.2??0-5 m/s. Discharge was estimated at 1.28??10-3 km3. Numerical modeling analysis of single-well aquifer tests predicted lower specific storage in crystalline bedrock than in ferricrete and colluvial material (6.7??10-5-2.10??0-3 l/m). Hydraulic conductivity in crystalline bedrock was significantly lower than in colluvial and alluvial material (4.3??10-9 -2.0??10-4 m/s). Water budget results suggest that during normal precipitation and temperatures water is available to recharge the deeper groundwater flow system. ?? Springer-Verlag 2007.
Additional publication details
Characterization of the shallow groundwater system in an alpine watershed: Handcart Gulch, Colorado, USA