The Secretary of the Interior through the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act approved funding for research to improve understanding of hydrologic systems that sustain numerous water-dependent ecosystems on Federal lands in Snake Valley, Nevada. Some of the streams and spring-discharge areas in and adjacent to Great Basin National Park have been identified as susceptible to ground-water withdrawals (Elliott and others, 2006) and research has shown a high potential for ground-water flow from southern Spring Valley into southern Snake Valley through carbonate rocks that outcrop along a low topographic divide known as the Limestone Hills (Welch and others, 2007).
Comprehensive geologic, hydrologic, and chemical information will be collected and analyzed to assess the hydraulic connection between basin-fill aquifers and surface-water resources, water-dependent ecological features, and the regional carbonate-rock aquifer, the known source of many high-discharge springs. Understanding these connections is important because proposed projects to pump and export ground water from Spring and Snake Valleys in Nevada may result in unintended capture of water currently supplying springs, streams, wetlands, limestone caves, and other biologically sensitive areas (fig. 1). The methods that will be used in this study may be transferable to other areas in the Great Basin.
The National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service submitted the proposal for funding this research to facilitate science-based land management. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Resources and Geologic Disciplines, and the University of Nevada, Reno, will accomplish four research elements through comprehensive data collection and analysis that are concentrated in two distinct areas on the eastern and southern flanks of the Snake Range (fig. 2). The projected time line for this research is from July 2008 through September 2011.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
A Study of the Connection Among Basin-Fill Aquifers, Carbonate-Rock Aquifers, and Surface-Water Resources in Southern Snake Valley, Nevada