Experimental and Research Catchment Template
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== Location and Scale == == Dates == == Climate == == Geology == == Topography == == Vegetation / Land Use == == History == == Hydrological Knowledge Gained == == Anecdotes == == Reference Material == == Links == [[Category:The History of Experimental and Research Catchments]]
Location and Scale
The Watershed Function SFA project started in FY2017, and it is a continuation of the SFA 2.0 project that began in FY2013.
The East River Watershed SFA site encompasses the drainages of the East River, Washington Gulch, Slate River, and Coal Creek. The watershed is located northeast of the town of Crested Butte, CO and covers an area of ca. 300 km2 at an average elevation of 3266 m. Over the watershed’s 1420 m of topographic relief, pronounced gradients exist in hydrology, geomorphology, biome type or life zone (montane, subalpine, alpine), and extent of impact by historic mining activities and naturally mineralized rock, with Slate River and Coal Creek more heavily impacted by heavy metals, such as arsenic, copper, cadmium, and zinc, than either the East River or Washington Gulch. The watershed has a mean annual temperature of ~0 oC, with average minimum and maximum temperatures of -9.2 oC and 9.8 oC, respectively. The watershed receives ca. 600 mm of precipitation per year, the bulk of which falls as snow, and is representative of many other headwaters systems within the upper Colorado River Basin. The East River is one of two major tributaries that form the Gunnison River, which in turn accounts for just under half of the Colorado River’s discharge at the Colorado/Utah border.
The watershed geology includes a diverse collection of Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks, including the Mancos shale, that have been intruded by Tertiary igneous laccoliths and ore-rich stocks (Gaskill et al., 1991).
East River Watershed in Upper Colorado River Basin. Mountainous systems, such as the East River watershed (shown), store and release water from snow, with meltwater mediating coupled hydrologic-biogeochemical reactions across multiple spatial and temporal scales.
Vegetation / Land Use
Climate change, extreme weather, land-use change, and other perturbations are significantly reshaping interactions among the vegetation, soil, fluvial, and subsurface compartments of watersheds throughout the world. Water-sheds are recognized as Earth’s key functional unit for managing water resources, but their hydrological interactions also mediate biogeochemical processes that support all terrestrial life. These complex interactions, which occur within a heterogeneous landscape, can lead to a cascade of effects on downstream water availability, nutrient and metal loading, and carbon cycling. Despite significant implications for energy production, agriculture, water quality, and other societal benefits important to U.S. Deparment of Energy (DOE) energy and environmental missions, uncertainty associated with predicting watershed function and dynamics remains high. To address this uncertainty, the Subsurface Biogeochemical Research program, within DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER), is sup-porting the Watershed Function Scientific Focus Area (SFA).
News and Events can be found at http://watershed.lbl.gov/news-events/
Click for a listing of the project publications and other products: http://watershed.lbl.gov/news-events/publications/