INFRASTRUCTURE

The Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory (CZO), located in the Front Range of Colorado, is designed to examine the effect of erosion on the development and function of the Critical Zone.  The Critical Zone is the near-surface region that supports terrestrial life, extending vertically from the base of groundwater to the upper reaches

Drilling for groundwater wells at Gordon Gulch.  

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Overview:

At Boulder Creek CZO, we study how erosion and weathering control Critical Zone architecture and evolution, concentrating on slope, climate, ecosystems and rock properties. 
The Boulder Creek CZO lies within the Boulder Creek watershed, which drains the Front Range from the Continental Divide (4120m) to the eastern plains (1480m).   This large elevation range within the watershed encompasses five climatic zones and three distinct erosion regimes.  The three erosion regimes within the watershed are (1)Glacial Scouring (2) Slow post-Laramide denudation (3)Recent base level lowering.  Each of our field areas is chosen to represent the three erosion regime ( see Figure 1). 

Figure 1. Three Distinct Erosional Regime along Boulder Creek


Questions:

What is the legacy of climate and geologic history in critical zone architecture?
How are the dynamics of key interfaces within the criticzl zone governed?
What are the feedbacks between hydrologic and ecological processes and critical zone evolution?
How do landscape position, slope aspect, microclimate and rock properties control the evolution of the critical zone?

 

 

Research Topics and Field Sampling:

To better understand the critical zone and its processes, our research topics encompasses geomorphology, geophysics, meteorology, cosmic rays, hydrology, biology, stream chemistry, glaciers, soils & weathering, and GIS & remote Sensing.  Data from field samplings can be categorized into
(1)Time Series Data - meteorological, discharge, soil temperature and moisture, snow depth, discharge, groundwater depths, precipitation, time-lapse cameras.
(2)Regular Manual Sampling - stream chemistry, snow depths, snow pits and snow chemistry.
(3)One-time sampling/characterization - geophysical properties of field areas, soil microbial communities, cosmogenic nuclides.

Figure 1. Three Distinct Erosional Regime along Boulder Creek

Infrastructure News

FEATURED NATIONALLY

2017 CZO Webinar Series: Critical Zone and Society

06 Apr 2017 - 2017 CZO Webinar Series: Critical Zone and Society.

FEATURED

Korean KNU CZO visit great success!

01 Feb 2016 - BcCZO‬ had a great visit from the ‪KNU‬ ‪‎CZO‬ in South Korea. A new CZO that has been funded for about 5 months...

FEATURED

Robert Anderson one of four faculty members receive high honor for research, teaching, and service

06 Nov 2015 - Leaders in science, medicine are newest University of Colorado Distinguished Professors


Critical Zone Q&A with researcher Adrian Harpold

19 Oct 2016 - University of Nevada Reno's Adrian Harpold reflects on his past and present time researching at Critical Zone Observatories.

Shale Hills hosts eight-member delegation from China

09 Sep 2016 - To further their knowledge in critical zone research, a delegation of geologists from the China Geological Survey (CGS) and students from the China...

Cold Springs fire update

11 Jul 2016 - From Bill Bowman up at Mountain Research Station: After a conference call with CU Risk Management and Police Department this morning, the decision...

Cold Springs fire!

11 Jul 2016 - The Cold Springs fire is south of Gordon Gulch, and could threaten Gordon Gulch. The greater Nederland area is under an evacuation order, Most roads...

CU-Boulder to dedicate new SEEC facility today

14 Apr 2016 - The new SEEC building, the BcCZO home is being dedicated today April 14th. New labs, new offices!! BOULDER -- A dedication ceremony and reception...

More News >


Field Areas:

Boulder Creek Watershed

1158 km2, 1480-4120 m elevation,

The Boulder Creek CZO lies within the Boulder Creek watershed (1160km2), which drains the Front Range from the Continental Divide (4120m) to the eastern plains (1480m). Our work concentrates on four research sites that span large differences in elevation, climate, geologic history, and weathering regime: Betasso (1810-2024 m) Gordon Gulch (2446-2737m) Green Lakes Valley (3567-3745)

Green Lakes Valley

2.32 km2, 3567-4024 m elevation, -3.7 °C, 1214 mm/yr

Gordon Gulch

2.6 km2, 2446-2737 m elevation, 5.1 °C, 519 mm/yr

Betasso

0.45 km2, 1810-2024 m elevation, 12.3 °C, 563 mm/yr