Investigating groundwater-surface water interactions using a multidisciplinary approach involving hydrogeology, geology, and geophysicssubmitted by
Higher Order Thinking Skills:
Role of Activity in a Course:
Project lectures provided onsite: Since the course has no course pre-requisites in hydrogeology or geophysics, all techniques and background in these areas are provided through onsite lectures and demonstrations.
Data, Tools and Logistics
The study area, a riparian wetland research area managed by The Nature Conservancy of Wyoming, is located in scenic Red Canyon, near Lander, Wyoming. The canyon is drained by the now underfit Red Canyon Creek. Five alluvial units adjacent to the creek include four Pleistocene cut terraces through Triassic redbeds and one Holocene fill terrace. The creek has a series of beaver dams within tight meanders. The study project involves four segments of data collection and analysis: 1) mapping of the alluvial terraces, 2) installing and monitoring shallow test wells using a Geoprobe???, 3) conducting in-stream tracer tests, and 4) obtaining shallow seismic refraction profiles.
Students and faculty participate in an integrated effort to characterize hydrologic relationships within a well defined stretch of Red Canyon Creek. In two of the meanders, borings into fine-grained floodplain deposits are collected and analyzed, and piezometers or water table wells are installed. Stratigraphic data, water levels in piezometers and wells, and all-day in-stream tracer testing have identified a wetland hyporheic zone with short-term flow paths to and from the water table and the stream. Seismic refraction profiles suggest that there are buried stream channels and point bars beneath the surficial silt that may produce locally complex short-term flow paths. Next year we will use high resolution seismic reflection profiles and selected new monitoring wells to test this hypothesis.