Mountain-block recharge, present and past, in the eastern Española Basin, New Mexico, USA

Hydrogeology Journal



Noble gas recharge temperatures (NGTs) and radiocarbon ages were determined for 43 groundwater samples collected in the eastern Española Basin, New Mexico (USA), to identify mountain-block recharge in waters <10 thousand years (ka) old and to evaluate possible changes in mountain-block recharge over the past ∼35 ka. For Holocene samples from the southeastern area, NGTs are dominantly 2–4° cooler than the measured water-table temperature near the mountain front. Computed minimum mountain-block recharge fractions are dominantly 0.2–0.5, consistent with previous large mountain-block recharge estimates. NGTs do not display the distinct low during the last glacial maximum observed in other paleorecharge studies; samples recharged 15–25 ka ago are on average only 1.3° cooler than Holocene samples. Instead, samples with the coldest NGTs were recharged 25–35 ka ago. A proposed explanation is that higher precipitation rates during the last glacial maximum resulted in a lower mean recharge elevation for the basin, essentially buffering the effect of the lower mean annual air temperature and producing NGTs similar to the Holocene. In the period preceding the last glacial maximum, precipitation rates more like today’s resulted in Holocene-like mountain-block recharge fractions, producing a mean NGT ∼5° cooler than the Holocene, as expected.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Mountain-block recharge, present and past, in the eastern Espanola Basin, New Mexico, USA
Series title Hydrogeology Journal
DOI 10.1007/s10040-010-0696-8
Volume 19
Issue 2
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Description 19 p.
First page 379
Last page 397
Country United States
State New Mexico
Other Geospatial Española
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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