New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting & Ft. Stanton Cave Conference — Abstracts
The Two Independent Water Systems in Fort Stanton Cave
There are two known water systems in the Fort Stanton Cave system. The first water system flows through the historic section of the cave generally following the main passage between the entrance area and Snowflake Passage. The primary water for this system is hypothesized to originate from west of the cave entrance. The second water system generally follows Snowy River. The primary water for this system is hypothesized to originate from the Eagle Creek drainage while the primary drain is at Government Springs. The current data and observations support the hypothesis that these two water systems are independent and do not interact in any significant way.
The primary water flow through the main passage is limited by flow through sediments and has not been accurately measured. As such, the rate of flow will be low even during high water events. Thus, it is possible such a slow flow rate can follow strata that is below the current Snowy River level and remain undetected. It remains possible that the main passage water exits through Government Spring. For instance, it could be the source for Crystal Spring and the seep below Lincoln’s Bathtub.
The data supports a hypothesis that the historic main passage water system did and still can overflow into the Snowy River water system during times of high water in the historic section of the cave. Two different overflow routes have been identified. One route is via the Starry Nights Passage. The other route is via the Mud Turtle Passage. The elevations of both overflow routes have been raised by collapse features along the routes.
A precision elevation survey of the main passageway though Snowflake and North Snowy River is being undertaken. Although the survey is only partially completed at this time, it supports the current hypotheses.
2022 New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting & Ft. Stanton Cave Conference
April 7-9, 2022, Macey Center, Socorro, NM
Online ISSN: 2834-5800