Methodology to assess water presence on speleothems during periods of low precipitation, with implications for recharge sources - Kartchner Caverns, Arizona

Journal of Cave and Karst Studies
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Abstract

Beginning in January 2005, recharge processes and the presence of water on speleothems were monitored in Kartchner Caverns during a 44-month period when annual rainfall rates were 6 to 18 percent below the long-term mean. Electrical-resistance sensors designed to detect the presence of water were used to identify ephemeral streamflow in the channels overlying the cave as well as the movement of water within the cave system. Direct infiltration of precipitation through overhead rocks provided consistent inflow to the cave, but precipitation rates and subsequent infiltration rates were reduced during the comparatively dry years. Ephemeral stream-channel recharge through autogenic and allogenic processes, the predominant recharge mechanism during wetter periods, was limited to two low-volume events. From visual observations, it appeared that recharge from channel infiltration was equal to or less than recharge from overhead infiltration. Electrical-resistance sensors were able to detect thin films of water on speleothems, including stalactites, ribbons, and stalagmites. These films of water were directly attributed to overhead infiltration of precipitation. Periods of low precipitation resulted in decreased speleothem wetness.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Methodology to assess water presence on speleothems during periods of low precipitation, with implications for recharge sources - Kartchner Caverns, Arizona
Series title Journal of Cave and Karst Studies
DOI 10.4311/jcks2009es0094
Volume 73
Issue 2
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher National Speleological Society
Contributing office(s) Arizona Water Science Center
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Cave and Karst Studies
First page 63
Last page 74