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NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
12 Jun 2005

    Geography
  • United States
    Oregon
    Deschutes County
    Locality
  • Willamette National Forest; near Clear Lake
    Latitude/Longitude
  • 44.36576   -121.99361
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
  • SONY TCD-D8
    Microphones
  • Sennheiser MKH 40
  • Sennheiser MKH 30
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Decoded MS stereo; Sonosax SXM 2 preamp

yNPR/NGS
RADIO EXPEDITIONS
Show: USFS 100th anniversary
Engineer: Leo DelAguila
Date: June 11-13, 2005

DAT #4

Gordon Grant, Research hydrologist with the USFS Pac NW research station in Corvalis Oregon
Elizabeth Arnold
Leo delAguila

Leo-I'm just quickly testing. This is Dat #4 June 12th 05 and I'm with Elizabeth.
Where are we Elizabeth?

0:13 EA- Hobbitland

0:16 GG- What's known as Lost Spring

0:20 Leo- Lost spring, good to know. Let me get close to you (0:34)

0:50 GG- so you may wonder how we do science out here? Do we just come out and commune with nature? Well there are some things we measure. A spring of this size which covers 5 or 6 acres of wetland is almost impossible to measure it's flow. We'd have to go downstream to where the flow is collected in a single channel before we can make an intelligent measurement. But one thing we can do here is measure the temperature of the water. And by putting together a continuous temperature record you get a very clear picture of, for example, how sensitive the spring is to things like rainfall events because you can see it in the temperature record. So if I can do this without falling in (moving towards water) can you hand me that stick¿ We use very sophisticated tools here, your research dollars at work. (2:16 swishing around with stick in water) 2:45 So what I'm retrieving here, this is one of our continuous temperature monitoring devices. So it lives down here, carefully camouflaged behind some moss and there's a chip in here which is every five minutes goes out and takes another temperature reading and so periodically one of my graduate students comes out and downloads it to a computer and then when we put that up on a screen we get a very clear picture of what the temperature trace has been and that tells us quite a bit about the sensitivity of the water to the atmosphere. SO we've got a number of springs all through this western slope of the cascades where we've been doing these measurements. A day with wet feet is a good day.

4:15 EA- so that just comes up on the computer and you can figure out¿ what's that called, this instrument?

4:26 GG- that's a hobo temperature probe. One of the interesting things happening is that the ability to make measurements, to go out and sense the environment, has gotten really really good lately because there are all these small digital things that you can put in a river, you can put in a rock, we have smart rocks that record their history of movement in the channel. It's like this whole new way of sensing nature. We can't be out here, we're not gonna sit out here cold, day in day out with a thermometer and make the measurement but we can now get a wonderful picture of what does happen out here and if youd o that in enough places you begin to really assemble an idea of how the system really works. And that's what this concept of a hydrologic observatory, that's one of the concepts embedded in it, it's the idea of censor networks that you would distribute out and that would give you a whole vision of how things like watersheds and hill slopes and springs and the like work and fit together. This is one of my favorite places.

5:57 Leo- let me take a picture of you guys here and maybe you can be pointing at something while I take this shot¿

6:35 Leo- we are recording these incredible falls and they are really crushing
Ambi 6:50, Falls rushing, really powerful sounding Out: 10:00

10:07 GG- This is whitebranch falls

10:23 EA- We're at clear lake, this is a completely spring fed lake and we're going to go out in a boat and look at a spring. It's Monday

11:00 steel dock sounds, footsteps

11:23 EA- who wants to row?

11:25 GG- I'll row, it's the only exercise I get today

11:30 Boat ambi, brief

12:00 Leo positioning himself and EA and GG. Each on taking an oar

13:20 Trumpeter swan FX, paddling, flapping away, honking, 14:08 ish

Boat ambi: 14:00-14:50

14:56 EA- so where are we headed?

14:58 GG- we're gonna just go right across to that little alcove there, and that's where the water comes into this lake.

15:09 EA- what is this lake

15:11 GG- This is clear lake which is the titular head water of the Mackenzie river and this is a lake that was formed about 3,000 years ago when a lava flow came down out of belknap crater and ponded and dammed the Mackenzie river which is more or less in the same place it is today. And if you look down in the water you'll see remnants of trees that are still standing in place that were the forests when the lava came down and when the lake was formed. Lets see if we can find you one.

16:01 EA- this is deep huh?

16:02 GG- this is deep, I used to know this, over 100 feet in places, but it's astonishingly clear. Let's see there's one out here somewhere. We're looking for a standing log tree. The light has to be good for you to see it. Are we under it? Yeah, there it is, look over our stern, you see it? 17:05 Right¿.now 17:35 So the lake bottom is just full of these ghost forests of 3,000 year old trees. Rowing sounds 17:50

17:58 EA- that was quite the trumpeter swan

18:00 GG- that was quite the swan, do you know how long we had to set it up with the swan trainer, had to give him a double click on the radio and then he released the swan.

19:10 GG- well let me show you one thing before we land. If you look over here you'll actually see a little creek coming in. That's not a creek that is the spring. There are multiple springs. This one actually goes by the name of great spring because it's the biggest. We're going to go over there.

19:53 Boat Rowing Ambi Out: 20:46

20:47 EA ¿ so where is it coming from

20:49 GG- well we're going to land the boat and walk up to the actual inflow where the stream comes in.

FX- 20:55 Water rushing in EA- Whoooo!

21:01 Woman in background- do we know the discharge rate of the spring?

21:03 GG- um, we know the discharge coming out of the lake, not from this one spring, but it's running I think about 100 CFS out of the lake right now. The lava flows that created the lake are also the source of the springs.

21:35 EA- so this spring, what's coming out of this spring is what we talked about yesterday when we talked about the top of Mackenzie pass

21:51 GG- so the water that's coming out of this spring here is the water that entered the lava flows that we were looking at yesterday, somewhere. And that water is running under ground, it's probably come 10 or 15 miles from where we were yesterday and it's exiting essentially at the base of that most recent 3000 year old flow so it's probably following the contact between the older flows that underlie it, the most recent flow, and that young one we were looking at yesterday, and we can actually get up above the spring and stand on the lava flow itself.

22:42 EA- so the water we talked about yesterday is finding those gaps, going down until it hits something impenetrable, and then feeding into this lake.

23:15 GG- so the water that we're sitting in the middle of is the water that feell out of the sky somewhere in the past, maybe as much as 5/10 years ago and has worked it's way through this very porous lava flow and is probably flowing right at the contact between young lava flow on top and an older lava flow below it. And somehow, and this is one of the things we don't understand that well, somehow all this water is being gathered and coming out at a single place, like this, and how that plumbing system work, that is how the different conduits feed into eachother, and essentially gather what amounts to an underground river together is not at all understood because we have no way of looking 100 feet, 200, 300 feet into the ground so all we can do is marvel as it comes out of the rock.

24:30 water in background 25:00

25:38 GG- SO let's go look at the spring.

25:52 We're gonna beach this thing and get out and look at it.

26:06 GG- Someone ought to call this, I don't know, clear lake!

26:12 GG- notice right here you have, see the rubble pile underneath us here, this is a piece of the lava flow, probably a late stage of the eruption that entered the lake as it was already filling. This is natural dam. The major lobe of the dam is down that way but there's pieces of it all around.

(woman asking questions off mic, can't really hear her)

27:06 rowing ambi, beaching sounds ¿ok¿ (EA) ¿so you got the chain?¿(GG) Out: 28:14

28:15 GG- just messin' about in boats. Lava rocks, otherwise known as Poinker (sp?) Take a look at the size of this tree. Look at the size of this tree. You know you work out here and you're surrounded by big trees, but they never cease to amaze, you're just always astonished that these living things can get this big. And also just look at what it's put up with, that whole, this was a pretty big fire. The flames must have been 40 or 50 feet high through here.

Jokes about salvage sale 29:25 on hazard tree

29:38 woman- how old do you think that tree is Gordon?

29:43 GG- I'm guessing 400 plus on that one, that's a big tree. That's probably close to 10 feet diameter at the base.

30:05 Walking ambi out:

31:44 GG- Hi, we got a radio crew out here and they're doing a piece on the spring.

31:53 man- Hi ladies, really? We been coming here for the past 18 years.

32:01 GG- we have a whole research project around these springs.

32:04 Radio woman- we have a little geode cache somewhere down here a few years ago, my son discovered it last year.

32:12 GG- oh really, I do geode cashing with my kids too.

32:19 radio woman- well you'll have to find it and leave something in there and a note too. Right on.

32:29 GG- lets see if our temperature probe is there. We had a , somehow our temperature probe, which has my name and telephone on it , got lifted outo f here a couple of years ago, and someone found it in the woods and took it with them to eastern Oregon, and then called me, and sent it back.

33:01 EA so this pool is coming out of¿

33:05 GG- this pool is the spring and it's difficult to see, I mean, picture how much water was going by our boat before, and all that water was merging right at the contact here between the lava flows. If you look carefully at the water you can see a sort of rippled appearance, that's a large volume slow upwelling of this water coming out, right out of the toe of this lava flow right here. So it's not just a single hole it's a whole zone of contact that probably extends quite a bit of distance on either side of what we can see here. We can hike along the edge of the lake and probably find little pieces where this is coming down, but this is great spring.

34:13 EA- it's unbelievabley clear

34:18 GG- you see the Bombay sapphire gin bottle, that's the color. Let's actually walk down here. (off mic)

35:00 GG reaching in water, Put your hand in, that is cold water. It's about 40 degrees coming out and that's because it's been underground for a long time, and this is another one of those things that gives you a clue as to where the water comes from because the temperature of the water that's coming out is an average of the temperature for the entire basin as a whole so you can actually come up with an estimate of w2here the spring is recharging from just by measureing the temperature of the water and plotting it on a curve that looks at mean annual temperature as a function of elevation, so you can come up with elevation for this spring. And I'd have to look on a map to find out exactly what the data point is.

36:16 EA- in laymen's terms though, you can make the assumption that a lot of this is coming from the same place if the temperature's all the same.
36:36 GG- the temperature tells you about the average of where the water comes from, but it doesn't tell you where all the pathways come from, but if you measure a number of springs upand down the Mackenzie here, the temperature allows you to assign an average elevation at which the water is entering and coming into the groundwater system.

37:13 Boat woman- why do you think there's this big hole here where the spring is?

37:24 GG- that's a really interesting question and one of the characteristics of these springs is that a number of them come out in these very distinctive amphitheatre like bowls. The amphiteater can be explained because there are dry waterfalls that come in over the top. We won't have a chance to look at one of those. Here it's not at all clear why there's this sort of bowl shaped depression immediately below where the spring comes out. One thought is that it's just a primary feature of the lava flow itself. It's just an alcove that wsa formed as this lobe came down further and went down into the lake and the spring just happens to opportunistically live right here, but it's not at all clear why it's so deep right here, or what causes the spring to have the shape that it does.

39:06 GG- we're standing on the toe of a lava flow and probably we're right at the contact between this flow and an underlying flow because that is very typical for where the springs emerge. Let's go up on the lava flow itself.

39:28 Ambi, walking away 40:22

41:15 Ambi by stream entrance, birds in background 42:30 interruption
42:50 starts again Out:44:25

45:00 walking ambi (leo catching up with group)

45:50 EA- just for your purposes we're probably not going to use much of this exchange, but in terms of getting lots of ambi it's not¿ the main thing was just the boat thing.

46:16 GG- Some of these streams come out of lava flows that are as old as 3 or 4 hundred thousand years old, in the Mackenzie system, and in fact the one we'll go to comes out of a lava flow that is about 400,000 years old. So that's a very old system that's persisted over a very long period of time.

46:39 EA- so what are we lookin' at now?

46:41 Ok, so we're standing on the toe of the lava flow that was the top of where the spring came out of. The spring came outo f the base or bottom of the flow that we're now standing on top of. And this flow is about 3,000 years old. It came out of Belknap crater and when you look at it, it's easy to see that it's made of this kind of blocky rubbly lava chunks, everything from about head size on up to large basket size, but in contrast to the lava flows up high on the top of the mountain, these are covered with moss. We have vine maples coming up through them. So in 3,000 years there's been time, in this climate, in this setting for soils to begin to form, for moss to become colonized, for vegetation to get established, none of which we saw when we were up at the crest at the top of the cascades. So there are variations just because of where you are in the climate spectrum from the ridgetop on down here where we're about 3,000 feet. We're about 2,000 feet lower than we were. SO this just gives you an idea of the problem we have. So we're standing right here, maybe 50 yards from where the water enters into clear lake and there's no evidence that we're standing on top of a river and that's one of the problems we have is how do we make sense of this cryptic river system that we can't see? The only way we can do that is to measure the springs and the characteristics of the springs. We can get quite a bit of information there. We can measure the temperature, one of the other things we can measure is another isotope of oxygen that's called oxygen 18 and what that allows us to do is to measure very precisely the elevation, the average elevation of recharge. So in the same way that we can do that with temperature we can do that even more precisely with the O18 isotope. SO between the temperature and the isotopes we're beginning to get a sense of where this system is rechargine from but it's a little bit like we're standing at the bottom end and we're looking up and trying to figure out where did all this water come from? And one of the problems we have is that your eyes deceive, that is the topography we're looking at, that is the swells and depressions and so forth do not actually give us a clue as to where the water is coming from. In most landscapes when you're standing in a depression you can say, well water comes down through here and here's the channel but here no, and so we refer to these as cryptic watersheds, hidden or cryptic watersheds. And in some cases the water may be coming from what is topographically the next basin over, and in some cases we believe the water's actually coming from the other side of the crest of the mountains. So we have to play some games to balance out how much water is coming out of the spring with how much rainfall and snow is coming into the spring and we try to balance those out and that tells us whether or not we've got the right amount of area or not.

50:21 EA- but figuring out the puzzle of what's underneath us is still your task. You have an idea about it.

50:34 GG- we're really asking some very simple questions: How much water is there? How old is the water? Where does it come from? What sort of transitions occur as it moves through the groundwater system? Does the water interact at all with volcanic processes that are coming up from below? We have to worry about that. But these are really simple questions that we're asking of a very complicated landscape.

51:17 EA- Susan said just a little while ago, well who knows what the size of this river is? It could be verysmall

51:28 GG- well we know, for it to sustain the flow that we see coming out, it's gotta be prettybig.

51:37 EA the way I'm picturing it is all these trickle things going on underneath it.

51:49 GG- the volume that comes out tells you something in adition to that . You can't just believe that it's just a bunch, a lattice of little trickles, because then you'd see little springs happening everywhere, instead what we see are big springs happening in a few places so somehow that system has to be organized to flow into central points, and the only organization that I can come up with is that what these under ground subterranean rivers are doing is in a sense following the path of old river channels that are now buried by lava.

52:30 EA- too bad you could just do a big slice

52:39 Woman- well if it was in the sahara you'd actually have side aperture radar where they can actually see the water systems under the sand, see the oasis line up with these channels. You don't have this dry sand.

52:54 GG- imagine any gizmo that you might use to try to peer into the depths here is going to be confounded by the fact that you've got, it's a giant pile of rubble. You've got, there's space, there's air, one of the techniques that we're looking into though, we've just begun to think about this is using some sort of nuclear magnetic resonance, same kind of imagery that's used to image your body, there are very similar sorts of techniques that would apply that would let you look at the amount of water that's stored in a vertical column using large scale NMR, but this is cutting edge stuff.

54:24- off mic, woman points out ducks and babies off trail

55:00 walking through underbrush to water/ducks, light quacking noises in background, not great ambi Out: 57:24

57:30 Leo- beautiful site with this pond and this mama duck with like 8 to 10 babies, they're just swimming. Sooo cute. Pretty site, not sure if you can use them.

58:00 Leo walking out: 1:00:09

1:00:32 EA- there is a loon out there, pretty small though.
1:00:53 GG- we're ready to shove off.

Boat noises 1:01:10
1:01:36 Boat pushing FX
rowing in background
1:02:00 GG- a surprising amount of water

1:02:12 Woman- where does the Mackenzie river come in?

1:02:24 GG- yes and there are still surface channels that come in but by mid summer they're completely dry. Part of what happens is that even where you have surface channels they're so full of broken lava that the flows go sub surface very quickly, in other words, it takes a whole lot of water to sustain surface flow in some of these channels.

1:03:12 Woman- so does that imply that it took a considerable amount of time to fill this lake?

1:03:25 GG- I don't think it took, I bet we got, My guess is that we've got somewhere on the order of one or two years worth of run off. It's a deep lake but it's not that long. We can figure it out, we haven't actually done that.

1:04:13 rowing ambi Out: 1:05:48

1:06:07 GG- well maybe that's all the piece should be, a hot july day, the water, to cool them off.

Talk about the piece, leo, just all that heavy breathing man. People will think about cool places and over endeavors.

1:07 and 1:08 Woman asking questions, Elizabeth says her questions are beyond, she and Leo talk about ambi in background.

1:08:40 Back at underground tree

Rowing 1:08:56- 1:09:44 some talking in background while GG rows

1:10:18 EA- alright, can you explain the concept of this underwater tree please

1:10:22 GG- ok, so three thousand years ago there was a river valley here and there was a river here and there was a forest here, and then the lava flows came down out of belknap crater, they dammed the river that was here, the river ponded, much as a river would behind any dam, and the forest that was standing next to that older river got flooded out, died, but because the water that's coming in and out of clear lake is so cold and so low in oxygen the trees that were standing have not decomposed and in some cases haven't even fallen over in 3,000 years and it's just, that's a 3,000 year old tree right in front of our eyes. That tree would have been alive probably at the time the terracotta warriors in china, no, that's 3,000 years, so that's 1,000 BC, so that tree would have been alive at the time of the Etruscans, predated the greed civilizations, and it's still standing. Ok, so lets see if we can get that swan.

1:12:11 and as we pull in we need to be quiet so we can get the transition, you can say some thing like, get out now, GG responds ¿we're here¿

1:12:24 Rowing Ambi, coming up on dock docking: 1:13:56 Out:1:15:00

up steps1:15:11 Leo, that was delicious! That was so much fun.

1:15:29 Leo at falls, water ambi again
1:16:53 EA- this is our underground river
1:16:55 GG- this is our underground river which has in a sense been released from it's subterranean cavern is now joyously leaping over the edge of the 3,000 year old lava flow. That's the hayley falls. That's about 60 feet high and the entire Mackenzie river is pouring over it. That's what creates the falls and there are a number of falls along the Mackenzie through here are all places where Lavas have come and come across the valley and now the river is trying to get it's teeth back in and cut back down and it's actually back wasting that is the edge of the falls is moving upstream over time.

1:17:44 EA- that's a lot of water though.

1:17:52 GG- we didn't see all this water coming out of the ground, but what we know, measuring the flow coming out of the lake is that there are the edge of the lake is full of springs and probably this whole valley is full of springs. IN fact if you look down at the edge, follow your eye down you'll see the rock, no vegetation, no moss and then there's a very sharp line, that's probably another boundary between two flow units and there's water coming out there and that's what's feeding the moss and vegetation at that point.

1:18:33 EA- so at that lake there were about 100 CFS

1:18:43 GG- this is probably more like 2 or 300. The volume has quadroupled but it's all coming out more or less in the same way than what we saw. There aren't many surface streams that are feeding this, it's all coming out of the ground.

1:18:59 EA- this is called? And it's dumping into

1:19:03 GG- Hayley falls and it's dumping into the Mackenzie river. As you tune into this groundwater lava rock story you realize that many of the scenic features in this part of the forest that the forest service is managing are all different parts of this geological story. This thing is just astonishingly beautiful but you come here in the winter or the summer it's always something worth seeing. But as far as the river is concerned this is just a little blip in the profile that it's taking it's time to wear back.
1:19:48 EA- and we're still trying to figure it out.

1:19:49 GG- and we're still trying to figure it out!

1:20:02 Leo- facing waterfalls
Waterfall ambi- 1:20:10 Out: 1:22:00

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