Thursday, December 29, 2011

Spring Flow

Water that sustains a stream comes from underground.  Water from rainfall and snow melt filter down through the earth.  When the water in the soil reaches an elevation higher than the stream bed, it reemerges and flows down the creek channel.  These points of emergence are normally ill defined and impossible to detect.  One source of water is easily detected and is referred to as a spring.

A spring is a single point where water flows from the ground.  There is usually some type of noticeable hole from which a trickle of water emerges. 

The rate and duration of the spring flow is determined by the speed and distance the water travels through the ground before emerging.  The subterranean conditions at Blue Jay Barrens allow for easy water movement.  Underground channels have formed a network of arteries that carry spring water to the point of emergence.  At times of heavy flow, it’s even possible to hear water gurgling along below ground.  This ease of water movement means that the flow won’t last and the spring will cease to flow during the dry season.

The trip through the soil leaves the water clear and clean.  In extremely cold years, the creek is covered with ice everywhere except where warm spring water enters the channel.  It then becomes easy to locate the springs because of the abundance of birds that flock there to drink.

Underground channels that feed this spring form a tiny cave system beneath the soil.  There have been many times that I’ve seen Jefferson, Smallmouth and Streamside salamanders disappear into springs.  I would imagine this to be an ideal environment for subterranean salamanders such as these. 

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