Spectral analysis of the flow behavior of Big Spring, Kings Canyon National Park, California

Linda Dee Urzendowski, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Big Spring, the resurgence of a karst aquifer in the Lilburn Cave system (Kings Canyon National Park, California), displays the uncommon phenomena of ebb and flow discharge during periods of high runoff; Hydrograph analyses indicate that the portion of Lilburn Cave between the Z-Room and Big Spring is primarily a conduit flow aquifer. The power spectra strongly indicate a nonlinear system, with evidence of quasi-linear behavior found on a smaller scale. The transfer and kernel function indicate that no additional significant inputs or outputs to the system exist. The bench-scale model built to simulate the ebb and flow cycles in conjunction with the analytical results and the actual behavior observed within the Z-Room and at Big Spring suggest a single conduit containing a sediment plug in the lowest sump that stochastically blocks the flow path creating ebb and flow discharge cycles. A larger cross-sectional area is present above the sump that retains most of the sediment because of a lower velocity.