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Hydrology of Salt Wells Creek — A plains stream in southwestern Wyoming

January 1, 1994

Development of energy minerals in plains areas of Wyoming is expanding rapidly. Such development may affect water resources and hydrologic relations of the plains; however, little information exists concerning hydrologic processes for these areas. This report summarizes results of a hydrologic study made during 1975-78 of Salt Wells creek, a drainage area of about 500 square miles located southeast of Rock Springs, Wyoming. The area is typical of arid and semiarid plains areas in southwestern Wyoming where mineral development is occurring. Salt Wells Creek is predominately an intermittent stream. Numerous springs in the headwaters cause small perennial flows in some upstream tributaries, but evaporation, freezeup, and seepage deplete these flows so that the middle and lower reaches of the main channel have only intermittent flows. The intermittent nature of streamflow affects water quality. It was observed that a flushing of dissolved solids and suspended sediment occurs during the first flows of a runoff event. A striking feature of the stream is its deeply incised channel. The downcutting is attributed to the cummulative effects of: (1) a change in the relative climate, amounts of annual precipitation occurring as rain and snow, (2) change in base level due to downstream channelization, and (3) changes in land use. Because of the incision, erosion is now expanding to include intervening tributaries. 

Citation Information

Publication Year 1982
Title Hydrology of Salt Wells Creek — A plains stream in southwestern Wyoming
DOI 10.3133/wri8162
Authors H. W. Lowham, L. L. DeLong, K. R. Collier, E. A. Zimmerman
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 81-62
Index ID wri8162
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization