Berkeley Lab

May 2019 – Updates, virtual site visits, and more

As it’s been some time since my last email update with news, updates, and safety reminders, I wanted to get a condensed version out as we move into the busy field season.

  • Following what was a big snow year for Colorado and Crested Butte, we’ve had a relatively cold and wet May that has suppressed melt and runoff.  From a water perspective, this is very good news, with the exception of runoff forecasting, which has been hampered by the unseasonably cool weather.  From a field access perspective, however, it’s proving to be challenging.  We anticipate that the County Road out to Gothic will be open soon, although vehicular access won’t be possible past RMBL for the foreseeable future.  Those with field sites upstream of Gothic will need to be prepared to hike, ski, snowshoe, as warranted.
  • We successfully completed the first Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO) flight of the year during the so-called “Peak Snow Water Equivalent” period in early April.  For those who haven’t yet enjoyed the opportunity to dig snow pits tied to these ASO overflights, I wanted to provide two short “virtual site visits” depicting both pit digging and snow sampling.  I hope you enjoy and can envision yourselves helping out next year!  A second ASO flight is being used to evaluate regions of preferential snow retention within the Ohio Creek-East River-Taylor River study area; it’s planned for this Sunday-Monday (weather allowing).
  • Snow conditions at the higher elevations are still quite deep for this time of year.  Indeed, for those with field sites at higher elevations, access will be challenging for quite a while to come. Courtesy of Wendy and Tony Brown, photos of current conditions at the Lower Subalpine and Upper Subalpine field sites along the Washington Gulch elevation gradient will give you a virtual sense of what can be expected if you’re planning to head up soon.  For those on Kate Maher’s (Stanford) team, it might be worth looking at those from the Upper Subalpine site, as that’s the approach area for your Rock Creek study area.
  • Snow conditions at the two SNOTEL stations (Butte and Schofield) tell a similar story.  Below is a very nice figure prepared by Rosemary Carroll that depicts a variety of recent snow years for comparison with 2019 along with corresponding river discharge for the East River at Almont.  The aforementioned cool, wet weather in May has suppressed runoff of late; however, a lot of snow-bound water remains, and if we get a sustained warm up period, this melt could make for some very abrupt increases in discharge and flooding / over-banking along the river bottoms.
  • Related to these large increases in discharge, please use EXTREME caution when working along the river corridor.  Indeed, unless absolutely essential and your training permits working within the river during the rising and falling limbs of the hydrograph, please stay out of the rivers at this time.  Given her depth of knowledge and involvement with the stream gauging network, please reach out to Rosemary Carroll (Rosemary.Carroll@dri.edu) should you have specific questions about river conditions and whether access is (un)safe.
  • In April, we had an exciting field deployment of a novel electrochemical monitoring system performed as part of DOE’s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program.  The project, led by Dr. Don Nuzzio, is described more fully in this new “Meet the Scientist” video.  In brief, it uses a submerged electrode system to electrochemically quantify a variety of aqueous metals and compounds in various streams within the watershed.
  • Field teams from the SLAC SFA led by John Bargar are currently in the field.  Additionally, various members of our collaborating groups from Stanford, UMASS, Univ. Illinois – Chicago, and elsewhere are arriving daily and starting up the field work season.  Stay safe, warm, and dry out there folks!
  • With the incredible help of Chelsea Wilmer, Amanda Henderson, and Tony Brown, we’ve had tremendous success this year with the early snowmelt manipulation experiments.  Snowmelt tarps have been removed at both the Lower and Upper Montane sites with significant advancement of the first snow-free day at both locations.  The tarps are still deployed at the Lower Subalpine site with roughly 40-50 cm of snow still remaining underneath the tarped areas; un-tarped control areas have 100 cm remaining.  Tarps have yet to be deployed at the Upper Subalpine site given >240 cm of snow still remaining at that elevation.
  • As food for thought, I wanted to share a well-produced, short video describing ranching-related research activities pursued by the Archbold Biological Station (Florida) at their Buck Island Ranch   Along with my fellow RMBL Board members, I had the opportunity to visit Buck Island recently and I couldn’t have been more inspired by their studies investigating the many positive benefits of well managed land use on both hydrologic and biogeochemical processes.  Given the strong legacy of ranching and irrigated agriculture in the East River and Ohio Creek drainages, the Buck Island model might potentially represent an interesting one with which to engage local ranchers in our watershed.  For those with an interest in such topics or with faculty friends working in this space, I might suggest reaching out to myself and Ian Billick (ibillick@gmail.com), Executive Director of RMBL.
  • Lastly, I wanted to share a photo forwarded to me yesterday by Rosemary that highlights the beauty of the site this time of year.  It was taken by Connor Scalbom, who is doing some amazing photographic work in the valley.

October 2018 – Quick update and hunting season reminder

I wanted to send along a short “virtual site visit” presenting the recent (and ongoing) shale drilling activity at East River. This visit will find you on the Pumphouse lower montane hillslope as we core a 70m deep borehole designed to capture hydrogeochemical processes much deeper than we’ve done so to date.

In general the coring has gone well, however, the weather gods have not been cooperative, as conditions along the steep access road have been challenging. We paused drilling for safety reasons tied to the recent ~30cm of snowfall, and we will be resuming coring at two locations close to Gothic designed to collect samples from regions of the Mancos shale more heavily altered by igneous intrusives. A final update will follow once we finish up that work toward the end of this coming week.

During the drilling activity, we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming Lee Liberty of Boise State University to the watershed. Lee is a newly funded DOE University PI, and he and his team are collecting seismic reflection data along many of the roads within our study area using a novel tow-along seismic streamer. We look forward to having Lee update us on his project and findings during a future Watershed Science Community call.

Important Health and Safety Reminders

The first rifle hunting season starts today Saturday Oct. 13 and runs through Oct. 17th; the second rifle season is Oct. 20-28. Please wear an orange vest, hat or jacket for visibility and safety. Like other personal protective equipment, the costs of these vests, hats, etc. are reimbursable. Please stop by the local hardware store, Walmart, or sporting goods store to purchase these supplies if you will be in the field during hunting season.

Related to this, I wanted to emphasize the importance of suitable field gear. We recently had an incident where one of our employees fell while trying to cross the East River near the Rustlers Gulch access point. As many know, this crossing has become challenging over the past year due to a large beaver dam immediately downstream of the crossing. Multiple cars have flooded their engines trying to cross earlier in the year, as the water line was above the engine air intake. As a result, many folks are crossing the river by foot upstream using logs and rocks to avoid getting their feet a bit wet. Such crossings can be challenging — the proverbial falling off a log. For safety reasons, such crossings should be made using appropriate footwear, such as hip boots, waders or water shoes, in order to minimize risk associated with walking the tightrope so to speak. Please don’t risk an injury just trying to keep your toes dry. As with the orange vests and hats, the costs for proper field footwear are reimbursable expenses.

September 2018 updates

We have several upcoming items that are worthy of special mention, as they’re broadly relevant to our group and the larger community of RMBL researchers and our growing community of interagency (DOE, USGS, NSF, USFS, NOAA, NASA, etc.) partners. Details and points of contact below.

NASA JPL Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO):

The NASA JPL ASO team conducted their snow-free survey of the Upper Gunnison domain last week, including essentially all of the terrain above the Ohio Creek/Gunnison River confluence. These data will enable retrospective snow depth and SWE mapping from the April 1 and May 24, 2018 flights this past spring, and set the stage for near-real time snow mapping in winter and spring 2019. This is a huge deal and incredibly important as we engage our collaborators with NCAR and NOAA on further developing a snow-focused computational testbed in the upper Gunnison.

Recall that this activity has been made possible through the vigorous engagement of the Upper Gunnison Water Conservancy District (thank you Frank and John) and with funding from the State of Colorado and champions at the Colorado Water Conservation Board (thank you Joe).

Also a reminder that this work is critically important to two of the three newly funded DOE SBR University snow science proposals at East River: Jeff Deems (CU) and McKenzie Skiles (Univ. Utah). So great news that this snow free-baseline dataset is now in hand.

NASA SnowEx:

I am excited to announce that the NASA SnowEx campaign will be active in the broader East River / Watershed Function SFA domain this winter and spring (2018/19). NASA SnowEx is coupled multi-year remote sensing and field experiment to develop and refine techniques for mapping terrestrial snow cover around the globe to address important water resources, water cycle, and climate feedback challenges. In 2017, SnowEx conducted intensive, month-long campaigns on Grand Mesa and in Senator Beck Basin in western Colorado. In 2019, SnowEx will leverage ongoing and planned observation activities around the western US to collect time series data of snowpack evolution throughout the accumulation and melt seasons in a diversity of snow climates at sites in CA, ID, UT, CO, and NM.

In the East River domain specifically, the SnowEx campaign will build on planned ASO flights (funded by the Colorado Water Conservation Board) and the aforementioned recently-funded DOE snow observation and modeling projects (see above; Deems, Skiles, Alejandro Flores [Boise State] PIs) and NSF (Raleigh [CU]), with the broader Watershed SFA activities adding valuable synergies. Additional ASO winter flights are being planned, as well as twice-monthly UAVSAR (L-band interferometer) overflights. These airborne acquisitions will be supported by regular ground observations and periodic extensive field campaigns to sample gradients in snow properties and processes.

At the risk of underselling this — this is a huge deal. Please contact Jeff Deems (deems@nsidc.org) with any questions!

Upcoming drilling activities:

Building upon our very successful drilling projects with USGS in Redwell Basin, we are planning to drill a collection of deep shale wells starting in early October to provide ground-truthing for both surface and airborne geophysical data collection. Drilling of four monitoring boreholes (40-70m deep) will occur to (a) recover shale bedrock for geochemical analysis and (b) provide long term sampling ports for evaluating seasonal changes in groundwater elevation and chemistry.

Equally as important to geological constraints, we’re pursuing a drilling campaign that folds in other extant RMBL researchers from the perspective of biogeochemistry.

As an NC State postdoc, Amanda DelVecchia (amanda.delvecchia@gmail.com) — in order to study geologic methane contributions to contemporary food webs — will be installing five 2″ diameter, 2 mm slotted PVC wells to bedrock on the lower East River (our “Pumphouse” location) using a Geoprobe this October. As part of this work, Amanda will be collecting methane samples from these wells and others for submission to collaborator Dr. Daniel Stolper (UC Berkeley) for analysis of clumped isotopologues.

So we have a busy October in front of us insofar as drilling is concerned!

Lastly — and this is purely for the geology and geocentric folks on this list — I wanted to provide a link to a remarkable document. It fleshes out Ferdinand Hayden’s original geologic surveys for the state of Colorado including the East River watershed from the late 1800’s.

Building upon the shoulders of giants is what we do — and with Hayden laying the geologic framework for Yellowstone, I’d say he qualifies — I’m including the link below.

https://haydenslandscapes.com/part-iii-elks-and-west-elks/east-river-gothic

This is so well done and with a focus on the East River and its environs from the late 1800’s, it’s hard to overvalue it.

August 2018 – Field update and new “Meet the Scientist” videos

(A) We successfully completed the drilling of the second deep well (150-ft below grade) in Redwell Basin. As noted previously, we encountered artesian flow at 150-ft, which brought an end to further downward progress. Prior to open hole geophysical logging and well completion, Mike Wilkins (Colorado State Univ.), joined me to collect a “deep microbiome” filtered sample for metagenomics analysis. We were able to serially filter (1.2, 0.2, 0.1-um) ca. 26-L of groundwater from the artesian flow zone at 150-feet within a metal sulfide-rich portion of the formation. These filters are currently stored at -80C in Gothic and will be sent to Jill Banfield (UC Berkeley) once preparations are made. Mike and I discussed the possibility for temporal omic-sampling from this depth if completion strategies being pursued this week result in sampling infrastructure that will allow for it. Fingers crossed for that.

(B) We’ve had an extremely active two weeks of field work. In the field have been teams led by Audrey Sawyer (Ohio State) and Mike Wilkins (CSU) working at Pumphouse on hyporheic zone biogeochemistry, Marty Briggs (USGS) et al. investigating a diversity of surface water-groundwater interaction zones using UAV imaging and fluorescence tracer injections, and John Bargar (SLAC) whose SLAC SFA team continues to probe heavy metal accumulation in floodplain sediments and redox-mediated processes impacting its fate along the Slate River / Oh-Be-Joyful confluence zone.

(C) While I’ve previously introduced John and his project to the team, I did want to introduce folks to the work of Audrey and Mike at Pumphouse and Marty et al. at Oh-Be-Joyful (and beyond). These “Meet the Scientist” videos run their usual ca. 3-min length, and I hope you’ll take the chance to watch them to find out what your East River collaborators are up to of late.

(D) Lastly — and as I say hopefully without irony — it’s all over but for the crying at Old Rifle. While I still maintain a small but active research footprint there examining uranium remediation via hydroxyapatite formation, we’ve reached a critical inflection point for that site. The attached photos tell the story, and for that group of dedicated “Old Rifle” readers, you might better find a box of tissue. I can safely say that Old Rifle made my career and that of so many others on and off this email list. We created what is without question the world’s foremost subsurface microbial observatory and we — especially DOE-SC and DOE-LM — should be rightfully proud. To plagiarize from Friday Night Lights: “Rifle forever.”

July 2018 Redwell Basin site visit/update

Below is a virtual site visit from this past Thursday at our lower elevation drilling location in Redwell Basin:

Drilling has gone quite well, with ore mineralization very abundant. Indeed, cores recovered from a highly fractured / faulted location at depth show massive metal sulfide mineralization even given the considerable distance from the felsite intrusion. As with the higher elevation site (MW1) drilled last September, Andy Manning and Lyndsay Ball of the USGS are leading the scientific charge. For those unfamiliar, a previously-shared “Meet the Scientist” video presenting their research program in the Redwell Basin is below.

While we had hoped to achieve a total depth exceeding 300-ft, artesian flow upon reaching a high permeability zone at ca. 145-150-ft below grade has necessitated a halt to drilling. Andy and Lyndsay are working today to devise a strategy for isolating this high permeability / artesian zone such that it can be sampled and monitored in the future. Shallower, nested sampling ports will be installed using the same well completion approach used at MW1. Lastly, a shallow (ca. 15-ft depth) portion of the open hole is unstable and work today is geared towards setting a surface casing to maintain borehole integrity for the next week or so as a suite of open hole geophysical logging measurements are collected.

Once completed, the rig will move back uphill to the MW1 location and drill a shallow (ca. 30-ft) vadose zone / capillary fringe monitoring borehole that will enable our team to examine hydrogeochemical processes in this dynamic region. Conversations between Andy Manning and recently funded PI Danielle Rempe (Univ. Texas) at the 2018 DOE ESS PI Meeting inspired this new monitoring hole thus highlighting the great value in that meeting for catalyzing new and novel research plans.

Here in the Elk Mountains of Colorado it continues to be very warm with summer rainstorms beginning to some degree but as of yet not providing much relief for drought-stressed conditions. Soils are incredibly dry throughout the East River area and stream flows are getting very low with high water temperatures. A challenging summer for the plants and critters, I’m afraid.


Summer 2018 update and “Meet the Scientist: Kate Maher (Stanford)”

New DOE University projects at East River announced
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has recently announced funding awards for six new university investigators working with Berkeley Lab and its myriad collaborators in the East River / Upper Gunnison. While some of these individuals have been or are currently working with us — some having previously presented to this group — others are new to the watershed and the project. We congratulate and welcome the contributions of the new scientists!

  • Jeff Deems (CU Boulder) will utilize multi-scale, seasonal snowpack observations and modeling to more accurately account for water and solute storage and fluxes within the upper Gunnison basin.
  • McKenzie Skiles (Univ. Utah) and Co-PI’s Janice Brahney (Utah State Univ.) and David Gochis (NCAR) will better constrain our physical understanding of aerosol loading, biogeochemistry, and snowmelt hydrology from hillslope to watershed scale within the East River watershed and its surrounding drainages.
    • Both projects will rely heavily on data collected by NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory and funded by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
  • Alejandro (Lejo) Flores (Boise State Univ.) and Co-PIs Rosemary Carroll (Desert Research Institute) and Haruko Wainwright (LBNL) will be working to advance our ability to accurately predict the spatiotemporal distribution of snow cover and water content across multiple scales by combining land-atmosphere models with operational, multi-satellite remote sensing data.
  • Max Berkelhammer (Univ. Illinois, Chicago) and Co-PI Chris Still (Oregon State Univ.) will be installing a network of sapflow sensors and automated dendrometers that will be coupled with stable water isotope measurements to study subsurface hydrologic and physiological controls on transpiration across the East River watershed.
  • Marco Keiluweit (Univ. Massachusetts) will be investigating the impact of plant root-mediated organic matter mobilization on soil carbon loss and nutrient export in mountainous watersheds, with a focus on the East River.
  • Lee Liberty (Boise State Univ.) will be working with Berkeley Lab collaborators to utilize scale-dependent seismic imaging to estimate regolith, rock and fluid distributions in association with upcoming and planned drilling activities in the greater East River watershed.

A quick note to new scientists engaging in field work at East River: Prior to undertaking field research (i.e., ground-based work), please reach out to Dr. Jennie Reithel (jreithel@gmail.com), the Science Director at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab (RMBL). Jennie is the primary point of contact for facilitating research activities within the greater watershed to ensure seamless integration with other RMBL scientists. She and I will work closely to ensure that your work is integrated into the existing Special Use Permits issued to RMBL and Berkeley Lab by the U.S. Forest Service.

Upcoming drilling in the Redwell Basin
Drilling of the lower elevation monitoring well (MW2) will begin the week of July 16th, 2018. This work will involve continuous coring to a depth of ca. 300-350 feet with an expectation of collecting samples from both the Cretaceous Mesa Verde formation and the underlying Mancos Shale. As with last year’s drilling at well MW1, this work will include downhole packer testing for vertically resolved estimates of hydraulic conductivity, open hole borehole geophysical logging, and multi-depth completions for sampling groundwater at discrete depths. For those who will be in the watershed during that week and have an interest in observing the activity, please correspond with myself and/or the USGS leads: Andy Manning (amanning@usgs.gov) and Lyndsay Ball (lbball@usgs.gov).

The impacts of the low snowpack year and very dry late spring / summer are especially evident up in the Redwell Basin. The below photo looking toward the new MW2 drilling site (center of the photo) illustrates just how little snowmelt and groundwater discharge we’re seeing this year as compared to most ‘average’ years.

Speaking of MW1, below are two virtual site visits of that location assessing the impact of a large avalanche that cut loose in the Redwell Basin this past winter.

June 21, 2018

July 2, 2018

NEON Airborne Observation Platform and “Meet the Scientist: Kate Maher”
Kate will be providing a more detailed update on the work and next steps as part of the July 17th Watershed Science Community Call. That said, a virtual site visit of some ground-based sampling is in order, as is a related “Meet the Scientist” video featuring Dr. Kate Maher.

NEON sampling

Meet the Scientist: Kate Maher

April 2018 – Spring Update

JPL/NASA Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO)

With generous financial support from the State of Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), as well as critical guidance and input from Frank Kugel and John McClow of the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District, the first of two “snow-on” ASO overflights of the East River, Taylor River, and Ohio Creek watersheds has been completed.  The first flight was designed to coincide with so-called “peak snow water equivalent (SWE)” and took place over the last 2 days of March and first of April.  Concomitant with this overflight, 18 snow pits were dug in order to have direct confirmation of snow depth and SWE at locations throughout the area of investigation.  Both the flight lines (red, white, pink paths) and snow pits (bullseye circles) are included in the attached / embedded figure.

Special thanks to the team of snow samplers who worked to both coordinate and execute the sampling: Rosemary Carroll, Wendy Brown, Tony Brown, Jeff Deems, Anna Ryken, and Mike Morse. Without their help, it would have been impossible to have collected the 18(!!) pits covering an area of many hundreds of square kilometers over an elevation range from ca. 8,700-ft to 12,000-ft.

In particular, Dr. Jeff Deems (CU-Boulder) — a key member of the JPL/NASA ASO team and an incredible scientific resource for our extended Watershed SFA Team — was instrumental in coordinating and scheduling the ASO overflight, ensuring the best quality data that weather conditions would allow, as well as personally assisting with digging snow pits, which as many know is something of a “Deems speciality”.  Again, without Jeff’s help in executing this work, we’d have struggled to be as productive as we were as regards ASO at East River both on this flight and those in the future.

Additionally, Jeff has provided some preliminary images of snow depths associated with the boundaries of the 2016 ASO overflight.  As a reminder, snow depths are calculated via difference in LiDAR derived surface elevations measured between “snow on” and “snow free” overflights.  The Watershed SFA had already collected high-resolution “snow free” LiDAR data over a limited area, which allowed for a single “snow on” ASO flight in 2016 to determine snow depths within the East River main stem and WA Gulch drainages.  In contrast, we do not yet have high-resolution LiDAR data collected over the much larger area of investigation associated with the East River-Taylor River-Ohio Creek system.  This data — again through generous support from the state of Colorado — will be collected in September 2018, so we will have to wait until then for the larger spatial scale maps of snow depth and SWE once that “snow free” dataset is collected.

In the interim, Jeff has produced a map of the 2018 snow depths measured two weeks ago within the East River main stem and WA Gulch drainages along with the companion map for 2016.  Those images are below.  Toggling between the two shows quite clearly the differences between snow conditions in 2016 (average year) and 2018 (low snowpack year).  The open circle symbols on the 2018 map correspond to the snow pits that were dug in association with the overflight.

A second “snow on” ASO flight is planned for mid-May of this year to assess late season snow retention as a function of both elevation and landscape position.  The ability to have two time points that track the falling limb of SWE is especially exciting as it should really assist with coupling this year’s datasets to improved runoff forecast modeling approaches — although we’ll have to rely on backcast modeling this year due to the need to collect the requisite “snow free” datum in September once runoff is already completed.

Early snowmelt manipulation experiments

As most are aware, this year was our first season of experimentally manipulating snow pack along an elevation gradient to induce early snowmelt relative to adjoining control plots.  The video below provides a better visual depiction of what the manipulation experiments look like at our Pumphouse hillslope intensive study site (lower montane); similar manipulations are occurring at our upper montane, lower subalpine, and upper subalpine sites.  A suite of ground-based measurements are currently underway to examine the consequences of early melt on flows of water and nutrients within the plots, as well as the consequences for subsurface microbial activity and plant phenological behavior.  Airborne characterization approaches are also planned, with the first round of UAV-based measurements over the manipulated and control plots planned for next week.

Pat Sorenson (LBNL) has been providing daily reports of the snow melt progression, as he’s been actively sampling for the past week-plus and will continue to do so over the next week. Pat will have an opportunity to brief this group once the dust has settled — or rather once the snow has melted — next month during our next Science Community Call.  Briefly, Pat has been noting that although the snow pack continues to consolidate, settle and melt, the soils have remained quite dry and largely frozen except for the shallowest depths.  He notes that the soils are very dry to a depth of ca. 30-cm, with the persistent frozen soil layers likely inhibiting infiltration.  These frozen layers were likely more extensive this season due to the late arrival of snow and its insulating effect.  So we’re actually getting something of a two-for-one this year, given (a) low seasonal snowpack and (b) late arriving snow, which has led to a deeper frozen soil profile than typical.  Combined with the early snowmelt manipulations along the elevation gradient, the project will soon have an incredibly rich experimental dataset to examine for the next year until we do it all again.  Very exciting and again more updates to follow.

NEON Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) planning

As everyone on this list has been briefed on plans for the NEON AOP overflights and been solicited for their interest and involvement, I won’t belabor this update,  Rather, I just want to note the hard work of Dana Chadwick, Nicola Falco and Haruko Wainwright in pushing forward with all the details regarding the sampling plan and coordinating with NEON on all of the flight details.  Due to aircraft availability issues on NEON’s end, we’re now locked into the last two weeks of June, with a focus on the last week for performing the overflights.  We’d originally hoped to have the first week of July available, but as noted, the aircraft simply isn’t available.  Given the low snowpack and presumed early natural melt, we feel that for the lower elevations (lower and upper montane) the last week of June should work well insofar as meadow peak or near peak greenness is concerned.  Of course, we’re dealing with a natural system here — heavy, high elevation snow warnings are again in effect for tonight and tomorrow — so we’ll just need to wait and see what June brings us in terms of a slightly advanced growing season and its ability to coincide with NEON’s timetable.



December 2017 – Pumphouse conditions and “Meet the scientist”: John Bargar (SLAC)

It’s been an interesting start to the snow season, with several large, early season storms that brought worry and challenge to our drilling operations at 11,500-ft in the Redwell Basin and the airborne geophysical surveys whetting our appetites for a white November. Since that time, however, we’ve had little in the way of significant snow accumulation at East River, and while it’s generally been warm in November and early December, we’ve recently experienced a very chilly albeit sunny cold snap. I suspect the frozen soil layer is thickening this year, and it will be very interesting to compare this year with last given the general absence of an insulating snow blanket.

Along these lines, I wanted to provide a virtual site visit of our Pumphouse hillslope location so folks can get a general feel of conditions there this past weekend. A new team member also makes his first appearance so there’s perhaps some motivation to hang in there while watching the video.

Also, I wanted to add our next installment of the “Meet the Scientist” series. With Dr. John Bargar, the lead PI of the SLAC SFA program, having presented a nice update of his team’s activities at East River during our last Science Community call, I thought it worthwhile to include a more “personal” presentation straight from John himself and to provide those who couldn’t join the call with a better understanding of the activities of our ”sister” National Lab SFA within the watershed.

Meet the scientist: Rick Colwell (Oregon State U.) and Laura Lapham (U. Maryland)

This video of our “Meet the Scientist” series highlights the DOE-funded research activities of Rick Colwell (Oregon State) and Laura Lapham (Univ. Maryland). Rick and Laura were at East River this past weekend (photo below), where they installed multiple “osmosamplers” within the watershed including within a 200-ft deep Mancos shale well and within the East River at our Pumphouse location. These samplers rely upon creation of an osmotic potential that induces continuous flow and enables autonomous sampling within locations made inaccessible due to location (deep boreholes) and weather (snow / ice). Learn more about their work and the technology in the video.


 

November 2017 – Groundwater Discharge Zones of DOE-Funded USGS project to Briggs et al.

Virrtual site tour highlighting one of the groundwater discharge zones into the East River being studied by Marty Briggs (USGS) and his collaborators Fred Day Lewis (USGS) and Lee Slater (Rutgers). With this time of the year dominated by baseflow contributions, the impact of geochemically reduced groundwater hitting oxic surface water is visually pronounced.