2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 185-9
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM


HAUSNER, Mark B., Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute, 755 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89119, FRIESE, Richard, NPS, Death Valley National Park, P.O. Box 579, Death Valley, CA 92328, WILSON, Kevin P., Death Valley National Park, 1321 So. Hwy. 160, Suite 1, Pahrump, NV 89048, HOINES, Josh, National Park Service, Death Valley National Park, Death Valley, CA 92328 and FUHRMANN, K. Kelly N., NPS, Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, 20 Sagamore Hill Road, Oyster Bay, NY 11771, mark.hausner@dri.edu

Travertine Springs is a province of ten springs in Death Valley discharging approximately 4600 m3 d-1. The complex provides the largest source of potable water in Death Valley, and has long been the center of human development – all of the springs in the complex have been developed or altered since the mid-1800s. Discharge from three springs was diverted to provide domestic water for Furnace Creek until 2009, when the National Park Service (NPS) brought online three new pumping wells and began a long-term restoration of the Travertine Springs complex. This restoration offers an exceptional scientific opportunity to examine the physical, biogeochemical, and ecological processes that govern desert spring ecosystems. Prior to restoration work, NPS and research partners performed vegetation inventories, surface and groundwater hydrologic measurements, and benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) surveys within the springs complex. After the production wells were placed online, a fire burned much of the vegetation in the springs complex, including a large fraction of the non-native palm trees. NPS took that opportunity to remove more than 500 palms in the winter of 2011, and began to incrementally reverse the diversions of flow from Travertine No. 2 (one of the springs that had been diverted for water supply). A fraction of the previously diverted discharge is expressed as surface flow below Travertine No. 2, with the remainder contributing to groundwater recharge and increased flows in the downgradient springs. Current monitoring efforts include BMI surveys in the restored channel and soil moisture monitoring, as well as a number of observation wells sunk into the shallow groundwater. Once the restored communities have been established in Travertine No. 2, existing structures in Travertine No. 1 will be removed, returning flow to its natural channel. Future work in the Travertine Springs complex will offer continuing opportunities for both restoration and research.