Green Lakes Valley

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"Green Lakes Valley (GLV) is located in the upper catchment of Boulder Creek (above 3200m) and lies within the City of Boulder Watershed. GLV is part of the Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research (LTER), where snow studies, geomorphic processes and hydrologic research had been conducted since 1981"

2.32 km2   Area

3567 - 4024 m   Elev

-3.7 °C   Temp

1214 mm   Precip

Parent Field Area:
Boulder Creek Watershed ▲

© William Bowman

Lithology

metasediments

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Setting & Research
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  • Setting & Research

    Area:  2.3233 km2
    Minimum Elevation: 3567m
    Maximum Elevation: 4024m
    Average Elevation: 3745m

    Green Lakes Valley (GLV) is located in the upper catchment of Boulder Creek (above 3200m) and lies within the City of Boulder Watershed. GLV is part of the Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research (LTER), where snow studies, geomorphic processes and hydrologic research had been conducted since 1981.

    Mean temperatures and precipitation are based on meteorological data collected from 1950-1970 at Niwot Ridge (3750m) (Barry, 1973).

    The site receives about 1000mm of precipitation, with 80% occurring as snow (Caine, 1996).  GLV consists of two distinct basins, separated by a 90m glaciated valley-step.  The upper basin is mostly alpine tundra environment, with 29% covered by vegetated soils. It has mostly steep rock walls and talus slopes and permanent snowfields. The Arikaree Glacier sits in the head of the valley and is the source of North Boulder Creek. The lower GLV has less exposed bedrock, fewer talus slopes, more extensive soil and vegetation cover. 

    Based on meteorological data collected on the ridge top of GLV, the mean average temperature is -3.70C.  The valley floor is less windy and exposed with more snow accumulation compared to the surrounding ridges. Also, it was last scoured by glaciers about 18000 years ago and subsequently has an immature and truncated Critical Zone.

     

    Mean temperatures and precipitation are based on meteorological data collected from 1950-1970 at Niwot Ridge (3750m) (Barry, 1973).

  • Overview Maps

    Map Overlays
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  • Dynamic Map

    To fully zoom into a small area, you may need to visit the "Map" button and uncheck "Terrain" view.

  • Data

    Betasso - Photographic Imagery - (BT_Camera_Array) (2014-2016)
    1 components    Betasso, Gordon Gulch, Green Lakes Valley    Data Management / CyberInfrastructure     Bob Anderson, Suzanne Anderson, Nathan Rock

    Gordon Gulch - Photographic Imagery - (GG_Camera_Array) (2009-2016)
    1 components    Gordon Gulch, Betasso, Green Lakes Valley    Data Management / CyberInfrastructure     Bob Anderson, Suzanne Anderson, Nathan Rock

    Green Lakes Valley - Climate, Meteorology (1986-2006)
    2 components    Green Lakes Valley    Climatology / Meteorology    Mark Losleben

    Green Lakes Valley - Land Cover (2008)
    1 components    Green Lakes Valley    Biology / Ecology    Eric Parrish

    Green Lakes Valley - Soil Temperature, Soil Moisture - (GLV_Catena_1-5_Array) (2009-2017)
    1 components    Green Lakes Valley    Soil Science / Pedology    Suzanne Anderson, Nathan Rock

    Green Lakes Valley - Stream Water Chemistry - (data from Niwot Ridge LTER) (1985-2011)
    3 components    Green Lakes Valley    Water Chemistry    Niwot Ridge LTER

    Green Lakes Valley - Geophysics - Shallow Seismic Refraction, Electrical Resistivity (2009)
    1 components    Green Lakes Valley    Geophysics    Kevin Befus, Matthais Leopold

    Green Lakes Valley - Photographic Imagery - (GLV_Camera) (2008-2016)
    1 components    Green Lakes Valley, Betasso, Gordon Gulch    Data Management / CyberInfrastructure     Bob Anderson, Suzanne Anderson, Nathan Rock

  • Photos

    Green Lakes Valley

    40 km west of Boulder, 3750 m elevation.
    Green Lakes Valley is the highest elevation field area of any U.S. Critical Zone Observatory.

    MORE ABOUT GREEN LAKES VALLEY

    All Photos are property and © copyright of the Boulder Creek CZO unless otherwise Noted

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Geology
Climate
Soil
Human Impacts
  • Geology

    • metasediments

    The bedrock of the upper Greens Lakes Valley is primarily composed of Precambrian schists and gneisses, the Silver Plume quartz monzonite, and Audubon-Albion stock [Wallace, 1967]. In the region, the Precambrian gneisses are quite variable in composition and include cordierite- and magnetite-bearing-silliminite-biotite, biotite-quartz-plagioclase, and hornblende gneisses and migmatites. Exposed on the north slope of Kiowa Peak, above RG5, are cordierite- and magnetite-bearing-silliminite-biotite gneisses.

     

    Above Green Lake 5 and extending to the Continental Divide, the Silver Plume quartz monzonite is a light to pinkish gray, coarse-grained, equigranular to porphyritic rock with distinctive white orthoclase phenocrysts up to several cm in length and etched into high relief on weathered surfaces [White, 1981]. Silver Plume quartz monzonite is variable in composition but in general is comprised of microcline, quartz, and feldspar with lesser amounts of biotite and muscovite [Gamble, 1976]. The Audubon-Albion stock, exposed along the north side of Green Lake 5 and extending to the high point of Niwot Ridge, is monzonitic to quartz monzonitic in composition, dark-gray in color, and medium-grained texture consisting of plagioclase, hornblende, pyroxene, quartz, and minor biotite. A fault runs south from the Audubon-Albion stock on Niwot Ridge through GL5 and along the north slope of Kiowa Peak, through and above RG5.

    The rocks exposed on the surface of RG5 are angular to subangular, variable in size from cobbles to boulders, and primarily gneissic with minor schistose layers. Gneisses exposed along the active front contain layers that have been propylitically altered and are primarily composed of epidote with minor chlorite, calcite, and pyrite. The origin of the hydrothermal fluids that caused this alteration is unclear, but the rock glacier is located at the edge of the Lake Albion mining district. Within a kilometer of RG5, the Snow Range vein produced lead, gold, and silver in the early 1900s. Alternatively, the fault that projects under the rock glacier may have been a channel for these fluids, or this mineral assemblage could result from a low grade metamorphic overprinting from the intrusion of the Audubon-Albion stock.

  • Climate

    -3.7 °C Mean Annual Temp
    8 °C Mean Warmest Month
    -13 °C Mean Coldest Month
    1214 mm Mean Annual Precipitation

    Based on meteorological data collected on the ridge top of GLV, the mean average temperature is -3.70C.  The valley floor is less windy and exposed with more snow accumulation compared to the surrounding ridges. The site receives about 1000mm of precipitation, with 80% occurring as snow (Caine, 1996).

  • Soil

    GLV consists of two distinct basins, separated by a 90m glaciated valley-step.  The upper basin is mostly alpine tundra environment, with 29% covered by vegetated soils. It has mostly steep rock walls and talus slopes and permanent snowfields. The Arikaree Glacier sits in the head of the valley and is the source of North Boulder Creek. The lower GLV has less exposed bedrock, fewer talus slopes, more extensive soil and vegetation cover.

  • Human Impacts

    Green Lakes Valley is a municipal water source for the city of Boulder and is designated as a UNESCO
    Biosphere Reserve.  Public access has been restricted since the 1950‘s, leaving the watershed
    relatively undisturbed.  The northern drainage divide is Niwot Ridge, a Long-Term Ecological
    Research (LTER) area and National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) site where a
    variety of environmental studies have been conducted since the early 1950‘s.  The continental,
    high-mountain climate of Green Lakes Valley has been recorded continuously at the D1 6
    meteorological station on Niwot Ridge for over 50 years and for shorter periods on
    the valley floor.