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Mountain-block recharge, present and past, in the eastern Espanola Basin, New Mexico, USA

January 1, 2011

Noble gas recharge temperatures (NGTs) and radiocarbon ages were determined for 43 groundwater samples collected in the eastern Española Basin, New Mexico (USA), to identify mountain-block recharge in waters <10 thousand years (ka) old and to evaluate possible changes in mountain-block recharge over the past ∼35 ka. For Holocene samples from the southeastern area, NGTs are dominantly 2–4° cooler than the measured water-table temperature near the mountain front. Computed minimum mountain-block recharge fractions are dominantly 0.2–0.5, consistent with previous large mountain-block recharge estimates. NGTs do not display the distinct low during the last glacial maximum observed in other paleorecharge studies; samples recharged 15–25 ka ago are on average only 1.3° cooler than Holocene samples. Instead, samples with the coldest NGTs were recharged 25–35 ka ago. A proposed explanation is that higher precipitation rates during the last glacial maximum resulted in a lower mean recharge elevation for the basin, essentially buffering the effect of the lower mean annual air temperature and producing NGTs similar to the Holocene. In the period preceding the last glacial maximum, precipitation rates more like today’s resulted in Holocene-like mountain-block recharge fractions, producing a mean NGT ∼5° cooler than the Holocene, as expected.

Publication Year 2011
Title Mountain-block recharge, present and past, in the eastern Espanola Basin, New Mexico, USA
DOI 10.1007/s10040-010-0696-8
Authors Andrew H. Manning
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Hydrogeology Journal
Index ID 70044842
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center