Evaluation of groundwater sources, flow paths, and residence time of the gran desierto pozos, Sonora, Mexico

Hector A. Zamora, Benjamin T. Wilder, Christopher J. Eastoe, Jennifer C. McIntosh, Jeffrey Welker, Karl W. Flessa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Environmental isotopes and water chemistry distinguish water types, aquifer recharge mechanisms, and flow paths in the Gran Desierto and Colorado River delta aquifer. The aquifer beneath the Gran Desierto supports a series of spring-fed wetlands, locally known as pozos, which have provided vital water resources to diverse flora and fauna and to travelers who visited the area for millennia. Stable isotope data shows that local recharge originates as winter precipitation, but is not the main source of water in the pozos. Instead, Colorado River water with substantial evaporation is the main component of water in the aquifer that feeds the pozos. Before infiltration, Colorado River water was partially evaporated in an arid wetland environment. Groundwater followed flow paths, created by the Altar Fault, into the current location of the pozos at Bahía Adair. Mixing with seawater is observed at the pozos located near the coast of the Gulf of California. The wetlands or other natural settings that allowed recharge to the aquifer feeding the pozos no longer exist. This leaves the pozos vulnerable to major groundwater pumping and development in the area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number378
JournalGeosciences (Switzerland)
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Colorado River delta
  • Environmental isotopes
  • Groundwater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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