Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Transit sources of salinity loading in the San Rafael River, upper Colorado River Basin, Utah
by Hadley, Heidi Kathleen, Ph.D., The University of Utah, 2012, 168; 3505164
Abstract (Summary)

The research objective of this study is to develop and implement a scientific methodology comprised of integrating soil and water field measures and geographic information system (GIS) analysis in order to determine the major transit mode of salt loading to the San Rafael River in central Utah. Major transit modes in a watershed are either a surface-water runoff process or a ground-water inflow to the stream process.

Salinity studies conducted to date have investigated process research questions of salt movement largely through a sole discipline of hydrology or terrestrial science (soils and landforms), but have not fully integrated hydrology with soils. None have attempted to create a methodology to determine above-ground versus below-ground, salt-transit loading in the watersheds of the upper Colorado River basin.

Quantification of annual salt loads (tons/year) in the San Rafael River range from a long-term average of 202,810, to this study's period (2001-2006) of 63,510, to an instantaneous (water year 2004) baseflow-only load of approximately 50,200. Thus, the 2004 ground-water salt load (baseflow) was approximately 80% of the study period average annual total load, or about 25% of the long-term average (202,810 tons/yr). GIS zonal analysis ranking of the salt-loading floodplains show that ground-water contributing areas have a high co-incidence of gypsum-rich, clay-poor rocks coupled with higher precipitation zones. Surface-water runoff tends to occur in more clay-rich soils.

This scientific methodology to determine the major transit mode and quantity of salt loading in a watershed can be applied to salinity-control management on public land throughout the upper Colorado River Basin. The knowledge gained from implementing this methodology goes into planning and on-the-ground projects that focus mainly on surface-runoff erosion control.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hepner, George F.
Commitee: Cova, Thomas J., Forster, Richard R., Grauch, Richard I., Kolesar, Peter T.
School: The University of Utah
Department: Geography
School Location: United States -- Utah
Source: DAI-A 73/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Geography, Geology, Hydrologic sciences
Keywords: Colorado River Basin, Hydrogeology, Salinity loading, San Rafael River, Utah
Publication Number: 3505164
ISBN: 9781267291875
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