Increasing population and associated residential and commercial development have greatly increased water use and consumption in the Verde Valley near Montezuma Well, a unit of Montezuma Castle National Monument in central Arizona. Flow from Montezuma Well and water levels in eight wells that are measured annually do not indicate that the ground-water system has been affected by development. Additional data are needed to develop an adequate ground-water monitoring program so that future effects of development can be detected. Monitoring the ground-water system would detect changes in discharge from the Montezuma Well or changes in the ground-water system that might indicate a potential change of flow to the well.
Water samples were collected, and field measurements of specific conductance, pH, temperature, and dissolved oxygen were made throughout the pond at Montezuma Well during an exploration in May 1991. The exploration included two fissures in the bottom of the pond that were filled with sand. The sand in the fissures was kept in suspension by water entering the pond. Water chemistry indicates that the ground water from the area is a mixed combination of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and bicarbonate type water. The analyses for 18O/16O and 2H/1H show that the water from the wells and springs in the area, including Montezuma Well, has been exposed to similar environmental conditions and could have had similar flow paths. The MODFLOW finite-difference ground-water model was used to develop an uncalibrated interpretive model to study possible mechanisms for discharge of water at Montezuma Well. The study presents the hypothesis that ground water in the Supai Formation is the source of discharge to Montezuma Well because of the differences between the surface elevation of the pond at Montezuma Well and the stage in the adjacent Wet Beaver Creek. A series of simulations shows that upward flow from the Supai Formation is a possible mechanism for discharge to Montezuma Well, and that a geologic structure in the Supai Formation could play a role in the upward movement of water to Montezuma Well.
The mechanism for inflow from the Verde Formation is not understood; however, this study concludes that the Verde Formation, Supai Formation, and other underlying rock units are probably the sources of water to Montezuma Well.