GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 31-5
Presentation Time: 2:35 PM


BISHOP, Melisa R., National Park Service, Geologic Resources Division, 12795 W. Alameda Parkway, P.O. Box 25287, Denver, CO 80225-0287 and PATE, Dale L., National Park Service, Geologic Resources Division, P.O. Box 25287, Denver, CO 80225-0287,

The National Cave and Karst Program is currently developing comprehensive reports for park units that contain portions of larger karst landscapes to assess hydrologically active features, such as caves, springs, sinkholes, sinking streams, and any associated ecosystems. The objective is to evaluate individual parks that meet these criteria by conducting extensive research into existing information and identifying data gaps to further our understanding of these shared landscapes. Completed reports will help provide recommendations for future research and identify potential vulnerabilities from anthropogenic surface activities. The information acquired will also be useful for future planning efforts designed to provide long-term protection for these fragile environments.

The fundamental aspects of understanding the hydrogeology of an area are to define groundwater basin boundaries, quantify general flow directions, and locate major recharge and discharge points. These are often determined through the use of dye tracing, such as a study done by the USGS in the vicinity of Cedar Breaks National Monument that shares groundwater resources with the surrounding Dixie National Forest in southeastern Utah. Results showed that groundwater in the underlying carbonate aquifer is capable of transporting pollutants very rapidly through the system, and that the greatest threats to water quality could potentially originate from highway runoff, agricultural practices, logging, and development that occur outside the park boundary. By providing detailed reports for parks containing these shared landscapes, managers can take appropriate actions in order to prevent contaminates from impacting important cave and karst resources.