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Geology of National Parks: National Park Service Support Project


Geohydrologic studies of Pipe Spring National Monument and the Kaibab Indian Reservation, Mohave County, Arizona

Pipe Spring National Monument, in the northernmost part of central Arizona, is an oasis in an arid landscape. Its springs have played a part in the history of the American Indians, early explorers, and Mormon pioneers. The Monument lies within the boundaries of the Kaibab Indian Reservation.

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The historic fort at Pipe Spring National Monument is known as "Winsor Castle."

"Over the past forty years, spring flow from the main spring (Pipe Spring) gradually diminished, and in the summer of 1999, the spring beneath Winsor Castle stopped producing water. Two other water-producing features on the Monument continued to flow.... The decline in spring flow has resulted in a series of hydrological research projects aimed at increased understanding of the Pipe Spring groundwater aquifer" (National Park Service News Release, 3/27/02).

The geologic framework of the region strongly controls groundwater flow. As part of a National Park Service and USGS partnership, USGS scientists are mapping the bedrock, surficial, and structural geology of the Monument and its environs. Four 7.5-minute (1:24,000) quadrangles comprise the mapping area: Pipe Valley, Pipe Spring, Moccasin, and Kaibab quadrangles. They will be mapped to USGS standards with emphasis on the local character of the Navajo Sandstone and Kayenta Formation, their contact, and the structures associated with the Sevier fault system. The geologic mapping and compilation will take three years, beginning in Fiscal Year 2003. This task represents one piece of an interdisciplinary USGS effort to develop a better three-dimensional understanding of the pathways for groundwater movement to the springs, and the vulnerability of the springs to groundwater extractions. The geologic mapping complements proposed high resolution seismic profiling of features below the surface such as fracture zones, jointing, and water tables.

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