Comparative isotope hydrology study of groundwater sources and transport in the three cascade volcanoes of Northern California

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Quaternary-age volcanic peaks of Mt. Lassen, Mt. Shasta, and Medicine Lake Volcano preferentially recharge and transport large volumes of annual precipitation into mega- scale channels hosted in underlying volcanic layers. At the terminus of laterally extensive lava flows, or in deep incisions of these layers, groundwater emerges as large volume cold springs. The combined discharge of these springs contributes half the annual storage capacity of Shasta Reservoir, and is utilized to generate 2000 gigawatts of hydroelectric power each year. Moreover, the springs provide a natural habitat for many rare and endangered species. In the Hat Creek Valley, located north of ... continued below

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Davisson, M.L. & Rose, T.P. September 1, 1997.

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Quaternary-age volcanic peaks of Mt. Lassen, Mt. Shasta, and Medicine Lake Volcano preferentially recharge and transport large volumes of annual precipitation into mega- scale channels hosted in underlying volcanic layers. At the terminus of laterally extensive lava flows, or in deep incisions of these layers, groundwater emerges as large volume cold springs. The combined discharge of these springs contributes half the annual storage capacity of Shasta Reservoir, and is utilized to generate 2000 gigawatts of hydroelectric power each year. Moreover, the springs provide a natural habitat for many rare and endangered species. In the Hat Creek Valley, located north of Mt. Lassen, Rose et al. (1996) showed that the low d 18 O discharge of large volume springs at Rising River and Crystal Lake originates from snow melt in the high elevation, high precipitation region surrounding Lassen Peak. Groundwater transport in this basin is enhanced by the occurrence of the Quaternary Hat Creek basalt flow, which extends nearly the entire length of Hat Creek Valley. In contrast, the d 18 O values of large- volume springs that discharge in the Mt. Shasta region indicate a larger percentage of local recharge at lower elevations since the high elevation snow melt on the volcano is depleted by >1 per mil relative to the largest springs. The d 18 O value of the Fall River Springs (FRS) system is similar to small springs that occur at high elevations on Medicine Lake Volcano. The large volume of the FRS discharge coupled with a lack of surficial drainages in this area indicates that a large percentage of the annual precipitation over an ~750 mi 2 area of the Medicine Lake volcanic plateau goes to recharge the FRS aquifer system. Groundwater transport to the FRS is enhanced by the occurrence of the 10 kyr Giant Crater lava flow, a single geologic unit that extends from the base of Medicine Lake Volcano to the FRS. many of the large volume springs in the southern Cascade Range. For example, the radiocarbon concentration in Rising River Springs is 80 pmc, which indicates at least 20% of its dissolved inorganic carbon is derived from a magmatic source in the Lassen region. The radiocarbon activity in the FRS is as low as 73 pmc, indicating a minimum contribution of 27% magmatic CO2 from Medicine Lake volcano. Magmatic CO2 fluxes in the Shasta region are highest around the base of the volcano, where low- volume, CO2 -rich, 14 C- absent soda springs occur. Relatively large quantities of magmatic CO2 are observed in the Big Springs of the McCloud River, which have a d 18 O signature consistent with low elevation recharge in the Shasta region. relative to Mt. Lassen and Medicine Lake Volcano reflect significant differences in the geomorphology of the volcanoes. In particular, the composite nature of the Shasta stratocone tends to limit the depth of groundwater recharge, confining the majority of groundwater flow to the shallowest layers, which tend to be of more local extent. The lower permeability of the composite cone also acts as a trap for magmatic CO2 emissions, generally limiting the gas discharge to localized fracture zones at lower elevations. At Mt. Lassen and Medicine Lake Volcano, groundwater recharge occurs primarily at high elevations, along vertical fracture systems with high permeabilities. These features, combined with laterally extensive basalt flows, act to focus groundwater transport deeper and over longer lateral distances. The magmatic CO2 dissolution process probably occurs in close proximity to the geothermal systems at Lassen and Medicine Lake, where CO2 gas escaping along deep fractures encounters downward percolating groundwater.

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  • Other: DE00004074
  • Report No.: UCRL-ID-128423
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/4074 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 4074
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc676972

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  • September 1, 1997

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  • July 25, 2015, 2:20 a.m.

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  • Nov. 22, 2016, 10:58 p.m.

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Davisson, M.L. & Rose, T.P. Comparative isotope hydrology study of groundwater sources and transport in the three cascade volcanoes of Northern California, report, September 1, 1997; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc676972/: accessed November 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.