Monday, August 30, 2010, 12:00PM - 1:00PM
The Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) was established in 2007 to study how interactions between weathering and erosion shape near surface environments. The Front Range, which Boulder Creek drains, provides an ideal laboratory for this exploration, with glacially-scoured headwaters, a middle zone that has evolved without significant perturbations since the end of the Laramide Orogeny (ca. 50 Ma), and regions impacted by baselevel lowering and canyon cutting over the last ~5 Ma. Much of our research effort has focused on Gordon Gulch, in the middle zone post-Laramide Rocky Mountain surface. The east-west trending valley shows marked contrasts between its south-facing and north-facing slopes in vegetation, snow cover, soil temperatures, moisture delivery, and weathering of the underlying rock. These aspect differences, however, are not seen strongly in the microbial populations in the soils. We are using the aspect “experiment” in Gordon Gulch to help develop models of weathering and hydrology.