Arroyo cutting and vegetation change in Abo Canyon, New Mexico: evidence from repeat photography along the Santa Fe Railway
Stephen A. Hall, William Penner, and Moira Ellis
A series of photographs was taken before 1903 and in the period 1903 to 1907 during the construction of the Santa Fe Railway through the Abo Canyon section of the Belen Cutoff. Repeat photographs of the same views were taken in 2008. The pre-1903 and 1903-1907 photographs show the presence of a channel in Abo Arroyo in the early stage of erosion, consistent with other regional records of arroyo cutting initiated in the 1880s. The 2008 photographs show the development of a wider, deeper channel with channel and meander bars during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The repeat photographs of the canyon escarpments also show significant changes in local vegetation. One limestone escarpment shows a three-fold increase in one-seed juniper (Juniperus monosperma) from 10 to 32 individuals per hectare from 1903-1907 to 2008. In addition, the 2008 channel has dense stands of salt cedar (Tamarix sp.) that were not present in 1903-1907. Based on aerial photographs, salt cedar became established in the canyon between 1935 and 1954 and has expanded and increased in abundance since then.
- Hall, Stephen A.; Penner, William; Ellis, Moira, 2009, Arroyo cutting and vegetation change in Abo Canyon, New Mexico: evidence from repeat photography along the Santa Fe Railway, in: Geology of the Chupadera Mesa, Lueth, Virgil W.; Lucas, Spencer G.; Chamberlin, Richard M., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 60th Field Conference, pp. 429-438.