• Migration of Recharge Water Downgradient from the Santa Catalina Mountains into the Tucson Basin Aquifer

      Long, Austin; Barger, Erin E.; Long, Austin; Eastoe, Christopher J.; Bassett, R. L.; Barger, Erin E. (The University of Arizona., 1996)
      Aquifers in the arid alluvial basins of the southwestern U.S. are recharged predominantly by infiltration from streams within the basins and by water entering along the margins of the basins from surrounding mountains (mountain -front recharge). The Tucson Basin of Southeastern Arizona is such a basin. The Santa Catalina Mountains form the northern boundary of this basin and receive more than twice as much precipitation (about 70 cm/yr) as the basin does (about 30 cm/yr). In this study environmental isotopes were employed to investigate the migration of precipitation basinward through joints and fractures. Water samples were obtained from springs in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Stable isotopes and thermonuclear bomb-produced tritium enabled qualitative characterizations of flow paths and flow velocities. Stable isotopic measurements fail to display a direct altitude effect. Tritium values indicate that although a few springs discharge pre-bomb water, most springs discharge waters from the 1960's or later.