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 JWARP  Vol.8 No.11 , October 2016
Ground- and Surface-Water Interactions of a Pumice Aquifer in a Headwaters Watershed: Round Meadow, Fremont-Winema National Forest, Oregon, USA
Abstract: Plinian pumice fall from the Holocene eruption of Mount Mazama in the Cascade volcanic arc is an unconfined, perched aquifer in south-central Oregon. The pumice aquifer provides near-surface groundwater storage that maintains biologically diverse wetland environments. Wetland environments reflect post-eruption disruption of the once uniform pumice blanket by fluvial and lacustrine processes operating within the template of the pre-eruption landscape. In the 8.6 km2 Round Meadow watershed the pumice aquifer interacts with a seasonally flooded meadow, fen, springs, and perennial stream. The laterally uniform, isotropic pumice aquifer is disrupted by flat-bottomed ephemeral stream valleys that drain to the seasonally flooded meadow. Surface water levels in the seasonally flooded meadow are controlled by a knickpoint developed on bedrock. The underlying aquifer is confined by a layer of glass-rich diatomaceous silt grading upward to organic-rich silt. Here, the aquifer is comprised of remnants of the pumice deposit, lag sand, and reworked pumice. The water level in the confined aquifer is maintained by recharge from the unconfined pumice aquifer following flow pathways beneath ephemeral stream valleys. The fen is developed on a down-thrown block of welded tuff and pre-eruption diatomaceous silt. Water levels in the fen are sensitive to inter-annual variations in precipitation. Low discharge, low temperature (5.0&#176C to 6.5&#176C), and low conductivity (30 to 50 μS/cm) springs appear to be fracture controlled and rising through welded tuff. Spring discharge and seepage through pumice from the welded tuff support perennial flow in the creek that also carries discharge from the seasonally flooded meadow when water levels are high enough to cross the knickpoint.
Cite this paper: Weatherford, J. and Cummings, M. (2016) Ground- and Surface-Water Interactions of a Pumice Aquifer in a Headwaters Watershed: Round Meadow, Fremont-Winema National Forest, Oregon, USA. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 8, 1010-1034. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2016.811081.
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