Waterfall in the Desert

January 19, 2022

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Photographer: Thomas McGuire

Summary Author: Thomas McGuire

The Sonoran Desert near Phoenix, Arizona has many natural waterfalls, but nearly all of them only run for a few hours after major rain events. Shown in the picture above, Camp Creek waterfall, located about 10 miles (16 km) east of Cave Creek, is a rare exception. While this image shows winter flow, it is only in the past couple of years that the waterfall has run completely dry by the end of the summer. This alone does not prove global warming. But it adds to the countless observations of others as unfortunate and compelling evidence of local climate change.

The geologic conditions that cause this anomaly in the desert are springs upstream where a perched water table on ancient basaltic lava layers comes to the surface. Except in usually heavy or monsoon floods, the water usually seeps into a deeper alluvial aquifer around 300 feet (91 m) or so downstream.


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