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The Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory (LCZO) is located in Luquillo Mountains of northeastern Puerto Rico. The multi-disciplinary team of geoscientists working at the site are addressing a set of specific hypotheses that are related to the following overarching questions: How do critical zone processes and the flow and transformations of material differ in landscapes with contrasting bedrock but similar climates, land use, and geologic histories? What are the implications of these differences for the long term sustainability of water and soil resources?
Specifically, the observatory is quantifying and comparing critical zone (CZ) processes in landforms and watersheds underlain by three different rock types, granodiorites, volcaniclastics, and their associated contact metamorphic rocks. Previous research has demonstrated that these are some of the most rapidly eroding watersheds in the world. There are also dramatic, but poorly quantified, contrasts in CZ processes between areas underlain by these bedrocks. Individual research project include studies of deep weathering, soil formation and soil carbon accumulation, riparian zone dynamics, fluvial geomorphology, and meteorology. Infrastructure includes weather stations, instrumented soil pits and riparian zones, and stream flow gages.
The principal researchers and students involve in the Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory are from the University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania State University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Puerto Rico, the US Geological Survey, and the US Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry. The Observatory will also provide facilities for collaborators from a host of US and International Universities and Research Centers.

You can find us on twitter @luqczo

Luquillo CZO

Puerto Rico
Established 2009

"We study how Critical Zone processes and water balances differ in landscapes with contrasting bedrock but similar climatic and environmental histories."

Science Questions:

  • How does saprolite advance vary with regolith thickness and landscape position?
  • How are soil carbon, surface redox, and plant nutrient cycling affected by bedrock lithology, landscape position, and climate?
  • How does bedrock lithology influence delivery of sediment, water and solutes across the landscapes?
  • How do riparian zones and the stratigraphy of coastal sediments vary with lithology, climate, and basin size?

Our CZO is located in a forested, mountainous, and wet region of northeastern Puerto Rico.

Our research compares two adjacent watersheds, which are underlain by differing bedrock types and exhibit differing weathering characteristics,