Hydrogeology of Pumice-Hosted Fens in the Winema-Fremont National Forest, Oregon, USA


Subaerial fallout from the Holocene eruption of Mount Mazama in the Oregon Cascade Range was deposited upon relatively low permeability volcanic and volcaniclastic bedrock and regolith. In the Walker Rim study area, erosion by ephemeral streams shortly after the eruption disrupted the lateral continuity of the 270 to 300 cm-thick pumice deposit. Co-evolution of the surface- and ground-water systems in a low-relief, low-slope landscape allowed diffuse groundwater discharge from the banks of the evolving stream system. Accumulation of organic material from groundwater dependent ecosystems at these sites of discharge allowed peat deposits to form on gently sloping erosion surfaces cut into the pumice deposit. Following early stream incision, fine-grained, silt-rich deposits accumulated in valleys and contributed permeability barriers to the lateral migration of water in the pumice aquifer. Fens discharge from the pumice aquifer through gently sloping surfaces patterned after the slope of the erosion surface cut into the pumice deposit and overlain by approximately 1 m of peat on the sloping surface and alluvium or iron-cemented pumice overlain by alluvium at the toe of the slope. The predominant source of groundwater is snowmelt which infiltrates the pumice deposit during the freshet. However, shallow groundwater flow also takes place along permeable pathways in bedrock units. Locally, low volume discharge takes place along faults. The snowmelt-dependent hydrologic system that supports the fens of the Walker Rim study area occurs at elevations primarily above 1585 m.

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Cummings, M. , Weatherford, J. and Mowbray, L. (2014) Hydrogeology of Pumice-Hosted Fens in the Winema-Fremont National Forest, Oregon, USA. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 6, 1762-1780. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2014.619158.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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