Earth and Planetary Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 12-19-2021


This dissertation examines the interaction of spring systems and faulting. When springs discharge within a fault zone the interaction is often complex, and multiple methods are required to understand the flow, mixing and evolution of groundwater. In karst aquifer systems fracture networks can range from sub-millimeter to meters and only adds to the complexities involved in examining spring hydrology. The Interest in springs and faulting is not only driven by science, but also has applied applications. Faulting and fluid flow are of interest to the oil and gas industry, and potential CO2 sequestration. In the southwestern US, water quantity and quality are of more immediate concern. In these desert environments, springs are important locations that provide island habits for endemic species, are an important municipal resource, and often have local cultural significance. Decreases in spring and river discharge, and subsequent increases in salinity, threaten these habitats and create problems for water resource managers. This work is an attempt at using multiple methods to examine fault controlled spring systems. Geochemistry of springs is examined using multiple natural tracers, which proved information about the source, evolution and mixing of different waters, and continuous monitoring sensors are used to examine the physical hydrology and investigate changes in spring parameters over time. This work is split into three chapters. Chapter 1 uses geochemistry to investigate the source and evolution of water for a series of springs that discharge along the Nacimiento fault near San Ysidro, NM. Chapter 2 uses continuous monitoring sensors to examine aquifer properties and fluid movement along the Nacimiento fault. Chapter 3 combines geochemistry and time series hydrology to investigate springs at Fence fault in Grand Canyon, examining sub-river circulation, and regional recharge and mixing.

Degree Name

Earth and Planetary Sciences

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr Laura Crossey

Second Committee Member

Dr Karl Karlstrom

Third Committee Member

Dr Brandon Schmandt

Fourth Committee Member

Dr Mark Person




Geochemistry, Time series hydrology, faults, springs

Document Type


Included in

Geology Commons