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Friday, April 29, 2011 VOLUME 6 ISSUE 4  
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Water, Water, Everywhere?
Crow Canyon Staff Shines at Archaeologists' Gathering
Richard Wilshusen Named State Archaeologist
Stunning Beauty, Well-Preserved Archaeological Sites
School Group Students From Hawaii Create Blog
Bob Beers Passes Away at Age 96
Sally Monk Dies at Age 95
Water, Water, Everywhere?
New Study Reveals Goodman Point Community Enjoyed Abundance of Water
by Kristin Kuckelman, Senior Research Archaeologist

Although water wasn't everywhere, the residents of the ancient Goodman Point community did enjoy an abundance of good-quality water from the canyon-head spring at Goodman Point Pueblo. Such was a major finding of a study conducted by the Wright Paleohydrological Institute (WPI) of Boulder, Colorado, on the hydrology of the Goodman Point community. WPI is a not-for-profit organization led by Kenneth and Ruth Wright that is dedicated to the study of water use and handling by ancient cultures. The Institute has undertaken hydrological studies of many archaeological sites, including Machu Picchu, Pompeii, and four ancient reservoirs in Mesa Verde National Park.

WPI's paleohydrological study of the Goodman Point community focused on Juarez Spring at Goodman Point Pueblo, as well as two other ancient water sources—Goodman Lake and Mona Spring—which were located about one-half mile south-southwest of the large pueblo. The research included abundant office-based research and five data-collection visits to the Goodman Point area by the WPI team of scientists during the summer and autumn of 2010.

The project team included numerous scientists: Kenneth Wright (hydrological engineer and chief hydrologist), Peter Foster (hydrological engineer), Dr. Richard Holloway (palynologist), Brendon Langenhuizen (water resources engineer), Wayne Lorenz (hydrological engineer), Ben Peterson (geologist), Douglas Ramsey (soil scientist and geographer), Warren Rider (watershed scientist), Dr. Robert Weiner (chemist), Kyle Westendorf (GIS specialist), and Gary Witt (hydrogeologist). Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs also lent his hydrological expertise to the project, and Dr. David Breternitz and I served as archaeological advisors.

In the field, members of the team gathered data on the topography, geology, and geomorphology of the Goodman Point area and collected water, pollen, and soil samples from a variety of locations that were inhabited or used by the residents of the Goodman Point community. Team members measured the flow of water from both Juarez and Mona springs and estimated their respective drainage areas, mapped soils, and conducted infiltration tests. The team tested the water flowing from both springs for quality, minerals, and carbonates, and determined the maximum volume of Goodman Lake.

Measuring water flow at Juarez Spring.

The WPI team found that Juarez Spring typically yielded about two gallons of good-quality water per minute (photo, left) and that the water contained no notable metals contamination. However, because surface water percolated through Wetherill Loam, the spring water was more than five times harder than the threshold at which treatment is recommended today, and the level of total dissolved solids was twice the modern standard for drinking water. (Wetherill Loam is a type of soil that is well drained with a large water-holding capacity and a high calcium carbonate content at depth.) Although the spring water was free of bacteria and other harmful organisms, it was susceptible to contamination from habitation nearby.

Minimal requirements for the 500 to 800 residents of Goodman Point Pueblo would have been about 600 gallons of water per day for domestic use, and the WPI study revealed that Juarez Spring yielded 2,800 gallons of water per day—more than adequate for a village of that size. The flow rate during the occupation of the Goodman Point community was, in all likelihood, similar to that of today; data indicate that precipitation rates in the mid–A.D. 1200s were similar to current rates, and, because Juarez Spring is located high on the McElmo Dome, its flow is not affected by modern irrigation systems to the east in the Montezuma Valley. As in other areas of the region, crops were not irrigated in the Goodman Point community.

By comparing flow rates during the morning versus those in the afternoon, the team discovered that vegetation close to Juarez Spring used as much as 0.6 gallons per minute. The residents of the Goodman Point community could thus have increased spring flow considerably by keeping the drainage area free of vegetation.

Twenty springs are located within a 5-km radius of Goodman Point Pueblo, including the spring at Sand Canyon Pueblo; however, the springs in these two large villages were probably the most prolific. The springs in this area issue from Dakota Sandstone bedrock, which is several hundred feet thick in the Goodman Point area. The WPI study discovered that, although the regional dip and strike of the Dakota Formation on this portion of the McElmo Dome is about 3 degrees to the northeast, the dip and strike at Juarez Spring is 5 degrees to the southeast; this and other characteristics peculiar to Juarez Spring might have been responsible for its greater flow and reliability.

Goodman Lake is an ancient reservoir that was constructed with an earth-and-rubble dam at the downslope end of a large area of exposed bedrock. The proximity of several farmstead sites dating from the Pueblo II period suggests that the dam was constructed by community members during that time. Ancient trails connect both Goodman Point Pueblo and Shields Pueblo with Goodman Lake, revealing that the reservoir was used by other community residents during essentially the entire history of the community. The WPI study indicates that the reservoir would have been frequently dry in ancient times, but that it received about 200,000 gallons of runoff in a year of average rainfall, and that even small inflows of runoff remained in the basin for extended periods of time. The archaeological integrity of the dam and reservoir was compromised by Euro-American settlers in historic times when they dredged the reservoir basin and deposited the resulting sediment on the dam. Water continues to collect in the reservoir today (see image at bottom of page).

Collecting water quality samples at Mona Spring.

Mona Spring, just west of Goodman Lake, is much less productive than Juarez Spring, yielding about 0.5 gallons of water per minute (photo, left). Nevertheless, this smaller spring would have been an important resource and was sufficient to supply the domestic needs of numerous community farmsteads.

In addition, the WPI study suggests that the farmland in the vicinity of Goodman Point Pueblo might have yielded 25 bushels of food per acre, and that the residents of the large village would have farmed about 150 to 200 acres. Pollen samples reaching a depth of 10 inches below modern ground surface were collected west of the pueblo and yielded results consistent with a sagebrush grassland containing interspersed stands of pinyon and juniper trees; the presence of maize pollen suggests that an ancient crop field was nearby.

The results of this interesting and important study address the crucial issue of water procurement and community hydrology as set forth in the research design for the Goodman Point project, and we’re delighted that WPI chose to apply its impressive technical expertise to this end. Read the complete report.

Published by Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Copyright © 2011 Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. All rights reserved.
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