First Advisor

Robert B. Perkins

Term of Graduation


Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology: Geohydrology






Cascades, Faults, Springs, Groundwater -- Oregon -- Deschutes River Watershed -- Measurement, Streamflow -- Oregon -- Deschutes River Watershed, Stream measurements -- Oregon -- Deschutes River Watershed



Physical Description

1 online resource (xx, 196 p.) : ill. (some col.), col. maps


McKinney Butte, a late Tertiary andesite vent and flow complex, is located near the town of Sisters, Oregon, in the upper Deschutes Basin, and is situated along the structural trend that forms the eastern margin of the High Cascades graben (Sisters fault zone and Green Ridge). Rapid development and over appropriated surface water resources in this area have led to an increased dependence upon groundwater resources. A primary concern of resource managers is the potential impact of expanding groundwater use on stream flows and spring discharge. Two sets of springs (McKinney Butte Springs and Camp Polk Springs) discharge to Whychus Creek along the east flank of McKinney Butte, and during low-flow conditions supply a substantial component of the total flow in the creek. Despite their contribution to Whychus Creek, the springs along McKinney Butte are small-scale features and have received less attention than larger volume (> 2 m³/s) springs that occur in the basin (i.e., Metolius Spring and Lower Opal Springs). This study used discharge measurements in Whychus Creek upstream and downstream of the springs, and mixing models using measurements of electrical conductivity and temperature in the springs and Whychus Creek to determine the contribution of the springs to the creek. Isotopic, thermal, and geochemical signatures for the McKinney Butte and Camp Polk Springs, and local streams (Whychus Creek and Indian Ford Creek) and springs (Metolius Spring, Paulina Spring, Alder Springs, and Lower Opal Spring) were assessed to determine the source(s) of the McKinney Butte and Camp Polk Springs. The discharge and hydrochemical data along with hydraulic head data from local wells were used in the development of a conceptual model of groundwater flow for the McKinney Butte area. Discharge from the McKinney Butte Springs supplies the majority of water to Whychus Creek on the east flank of McKinney Butte (~0.20 m³/s), provides up to 46% of the flow in the creek, and is relatively stable throughout the year. Discharge from the Camp Polk Springs is less than 0.05 m³/s. Isotopic, thermal, and geochemical signatures indicate distinct sources for the McKinney Butte and Camp Polk Springs. Groundwater discharged at the McKinney Butte Springs is depleted in heavy stable isotopes (δD and δ¹⁸O) relative to the Camp Polk Springs. Recharge elevations inferred from stable isotope concentrations are 1800-1900 m for the McKinney Butte Springs and 950-1300 m for the Camp Polk Springs. Elevated water temperature in the McKinney Butte Springs relative to the average air temperature at the inferred recharge elevation indicates the presence of geothermal heat and implies deep circulation in the flow system. The temperature in the Camp Polk Springs is not elevated. The Camp Polk Springs, though not the McKinney Butte Springs, contain elevated concentrations of ions C1, SO₄, and NO₃ that are indicative of contamination. The study results indicate the source of the Camp Polk Springs is shallow groundwater whereas the McKinney Butte Springs discharge water that has circulated deep in the groundwater flow system. Additionally, the hydrochemical traits of the McKinney Butte Springs are similar to Metolius Spring, suggesting discharge from the McKinney Butte Springs is controlled by the structural trend that forms the eastern margin of the High Cascades graben. The significant difference in discharge between the McKinney Butte Springs and Metolius spring may be related to the size of faults that occur locally.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Geology

Persistent Identifier