2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. James McNamara and Pamella A. Cedillo


The Samaria Mountains in Southeastern Idaho are a crucial water recharge area for the Malad Valley and the Lower Malad River. The study area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is used for recreation and cattle grazing. Springs on the cattle allotment used for troughs and water storage have not yet been included in Malad Valley hydrology studies. To address sustainable use of these springs, we are providing spring systems recharge assessment. We have created a hydrochemical profile for the Samaria Mountains for comparison with a similar well-studied research site in southwestern Idaho. Through USGS standards, streams samples were collected and tested for cations (Ca, Mg, Na, K), anions (Br, nitrate, nitrite, sulfate, phosphate, chloride, and flouride), and deuterium and oxygen-18 isotopes.The ion concentrations and pH recordings from the spring samples reflect the underlying geology of carbonate rocks. However, the isotope ratios are similar to Dry Creek Experimental Watershed ratios, where snowmelt is the primary contributor to groundwater. Accordingly, recharge for the Samaria Mountain spring system is assessed as sourced from snowpack and calls for quantification of average annual snowpack contribution to groundwater.