First Advisor

Michael L. Cummings

Date of Publication

Summer 9-2-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Hydrogeology -- Oregon – Mount Mazama -- Mathematical models, Groundwater flow -- Oregon -- Mount Mazama, Fen ecology -- Oregon -- Mount Mazama, Pumice -- Oregon -- Mount Mazama, Water-supply -- Oregon -- Mount Mazama



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 124 pages)


The middle Holocene cataclysmic eruption of Mount Mazama blanketed Walker Rim, in south central Oregon, with 270 cm to 300 cm of pumice, causing capture of surface water systems by groundwater, stream relocation, and the formation of biologically diverse fens and seasonal wetlands. The pumice aquifer at Round Meadow, an 8.6 km2 basin, hosts both a fen and seasonally ponded wetlands. The Round Meadow watershed lies within a closed basin between the upper Klamath and Deschutes river basins. As the highest meadow at Walker Rim, it is a relatively well-constrained system to study the effects of hydrological disruption.

A water budget was calculated for the basin, hydraulic conductivity was evaluated for the three main sediment layers in the meadow, recharge sources and evaporative trends were studied using stable isotope analysis, and aquifer residence times were estimated using CFC tracer water age dating. Water year 2014 was a drought year and observation of the system under stressed conditions allowed discrimination of four independently functioning components of the hydrogeologic system. These were the meadow, which is by far the largest component in terms of water storage, the fen where iron cementation and up to 1 m of peat holds water in a berm above the meadow, three springs which are sourced from deeper groundwater hosted in the bedrock which underlies the pumice deposit, and the outflow area. In all cases, the aquifer material is pumice, but the influence of the pre-eruption landscape and post-eruption modifications of the aquifer material have resulted in partial isolation of the components.

The water budget analysis indicated that the basin lost 44 cm of water storage during WY 2014. Hydraulic conductivity values of 1x10-6, 2x10-2, and 4x10-5 cm/s, were determined for the diatomaceous silt underlying the pumice, the Plinian pumice fall aquifer, and for the diatomaceous silt overlying the pumice, respectively. The pumice is characterized as a perched, weakly confined aquifer and residence times in the pumice are much longer (decades) than for water near the surface of the meadow. Water discharging at the springs is isotopically different (lighter) than either the surface water or groundwater in the pumice aquifer. The fen at Round Meadow appears dependent on seasonal precipitation to recharge water, and responds to fluctuations in annual precipitation. The wetland meadows are volumetrically the main water-storing features at Round Meadow, and these are not homogenous features, but a combination of discrete components.


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