• An evaluation of hydrologic and riparian resources in Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona

      Baird, Kathryn J.; Mac Nish, Robert; Guertin, D. Philip; Department of Hydrology & Water Resources, The University of Arizona (Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 2001)
      Within Saguaro National Park only Rincon Mountain District contains significant riparian areas. The geologic framework of the Tanque Verde Ridge and Rincon Valley exerts strong control on the hydrology of these riparian systems. Pantano fault constitutes a line of hydrogeologic separation between the occurrence and utilization of groundwater in the Rincon Valley and the main Tucson basin. No known, comparable fault isolates the upper Tanque Verde Creek alluvium from downstream pumping effects. However, east of the confluence with Agua Caliente Wash, the highly permeable alluvial materials are much thinner, and serve to dampen such downstream effects. Therefore, the ground water reservoirs supporting the riparian areas within Rincon Mountain District are not directly connected to the Tucson basin aquifer. In what is described herein as upper basin areas, high gradient tributary streams to Tanque Verde Creek and Rincon Creek have discontinuous bodies of shallow alluvium interspersed with bedrock channel. Alluvium has accumulated behind small faults or resistant bedrock ledges and contains shallow ground water basins that support small pockets of riparian or xeroriparian vegetation. The ground water in these small basins is sustained by seeps or springs, and by runoff from precipitation and is not likely to be connected to a regional ground water system. In what we have characterized as middle basin areas, the stream gradients are less than 25m/km. In these low gradient reaches, the alluvial floodplain sediments are continuous, though not thick, as ledges of more resistant bedrock formations appear in the stream channel. These low gradient reaches contain larger volumes of ground water than the high gradient basins and support more robust riparian vegetation. The ground water in the low gradient reaches is believed to be connected to the regional ground water system. Such a low gradient reach exists in a tributary to Tanque Verde Creek about 1.4 km east of Wentworth Road and extends about 1.6 km into the Park. A similar low gradient reach occurs along Rincon Creek in the Expansion Area, and at the mouths of Chiminea and Madrona Creeks.