A 350,000-year history of groundwater recharge in the southern Great Basin, USA

Tracie R. Jackson, Simon D. Steidle, Kathleen A. Wendt, Yuri Dublyansky, R. Lawrence Edwards, Christoph Spötl

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1 Scopus citations


Estimating groundwater recharge under various climate conditions is important for predicting future freshwater availability. This is especially true for the water-limited region of the southern Great Basin, USA. To investigate the response of groundwater recharge to different climate states, we calculate the paleo recharge to a groundwater basin in southern Nevada over the last 350,000 years. Our approach combines a groundwater model with paleo-water-table data from Devils Hole cave. The minimum water-table during peak interglacial conditions was more than 1.6 m below modern levels, representing a recharge decline of less than 17% from present-day conditions. During peak glacial conditions, the water-table elevation was at least 9.5 m above modern levels, representing a recharge increase of more than 233–244% compared to present-day conditions. The elevation of the Devils Hole water-table is 3–4 times more sensitive to groundwater recharge during dry interglacial periods, compared to wet glacial periods. This study can serve as a benchmark for understanding long-term effects of past and future climate change on groundwater resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number98
JournalCommunications Earth and Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

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© 2023, The Author(s).

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