Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center

Integrated Methods Development Project

Geochemical Methods - Handcart Gulch Monitoring

Subtask Objectives

No long term monitoring records of hydrologic variability, ground- and surface-water chemistry, and climate are available for mineralized alpine watersheds. As part of previous work by Mineral Resources Program personnel, Handcart Gulch was instrumented as a study site. Handcart Gulch provides a unique opportunity to investigate hydrogeochemical processes and climate in mineralized alpine watersheds. Hydrological processes in alpine environments, where most metallic mineral deposits occur in the western U.S., are unlike those in other settings, particularly when combined with complex geology. Extreme climate variability and extreme topographic (and thus hydraulic) gradients potentially result in extreme temporal and spatial variations in processes controlling water-rock interaction and metals transport. Currently, data do not exist to adequately evaluate and understand such variations and their significance.

Our objective is to continue monitoring water chemistry and hydrologic parameters and begin climate monitoring in Handcart Gulch. Ground- and surface-water chemistry, ground-water level, ground-water temperature, and stream flow data already collected from the site (2003-2006) provide a base-line against which to compare future data. Combining existing data with future data will improve our understanding of the magnitudes and timescales of variations in alpine ground-water flow systems in mineralized watersheds and how they are coupled to climate and climate variability.

Planned Work

Annual sampling involving the collection ground- and surface-water chemistry samples from wells, and the trunk stream will be performed. The samples will be analyzed for major ions, trace elements, and various isotopes, along with field parameters such as pH.

Analytical data from samples collected last year will be reviewed, tabulated, and interpreted. Stream flows, water levels, ground temperatures, and meteorological data obtained from dedicated monitoring equipment will also be reviewed and interpreted as these data become available.

Occasional site visits will be conducted as necessary to service dedicated monitoring equipment, download data, and perform site maintenance.

Highlights & Key Findings

Please visit the Handcart Gulch project website for a more complete description of the Handcart Gulch research.

Contact Information

Andrew Manning
Box 25046 MS 964 Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225-0046
Phone: 303-236-1812
Email: Andrew Manning

Philip Verplanck
Box 25046 MS 973 Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225-0046
Phone: 303-541-3080
Email: Philip Verplanck

Jonathan Caine
Box 25046 MS 964 Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225-0046
Phone: 303-236-1822
Email: Jonathan Caine

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