CTU - SEIDER SPRING FLING
In Texas, United States
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See the Edwards Aquifer in watery action in the heart of Austin!
===CONGRATULATIONS TO Indigo Parrish FTF April 13, 2010!!!===
In the heart of downtown Austin
An oasis shrine so green
Beside the shore of Shoal Creek
Come see just what I mean!
THE TEST ================================================
Users of paperless caching devices have asked that the questions be moved to the top of the cache page. This does not excuse you from the 'required reading'!
As you enjoy the peaceful setting of this marvel of nature and working example of the Edwards Aquifer, email me the answers to these *relatively* straightforward questions (please don’t put them in your log):
1> Is Seiders Springs one spring or a series?
2> Go to the spot with the strongest outflow. Given that the average garden hose full on puts out approximately 5 gallons per minute, what do you estimate this flow to be? [Look, if math makes you blanch whiter than a starlet’s teeth, just describe the flow: mildly damp, soda-straw, garden hose trickle, garden hose blast, fire hose, broken water main….]
3> Does the spring seem to be coming out of a single layer/level of rock? Is there something distinguishing the spring-source rock?
4> Do you think the flow is:
.....a> Intermittent (rain runoff)
.....c> Year round
Hint: you will see yellow iris growing (perhaps blooming) along the path. Click on (visit link) or google “Iris pseudacorus” for another common name. This will give you a hint. As will all the other flora thriving at the spring site.
5> Turn around and look at Shoal Creek. Is it running? When was the last rain? What does this tell you about Shoal Creek’s major water supply?
6> In what year was the original grant made to restore the park? Who presented these funds? (Note: you won't need Google for the answer, just read below.)
LOGS WITHOUT VERIFYING EMAIL WILL BE REGRETFULLY DELETED (though not without due notice).
I don’t demand it, but pictures with your logs are encouraged (of you and/or the scenery … whatever strikes you as NEAT!) -- as are logs with actual content, telling us about your adventures in the park and what you thought about this nifty spot.
Named for Edward Seider (sounds like ‘cedar’), an early European settler in the area, Seiders Springs Park is a charming Austin City Park tucked between Seton and Shoal Creek Hospitals. The park anchors one end of the Shoal Creek Hike & Bike trail leading to downtown and Town Lake. In the late 1800's “Alamo Lake” and a bathhouse could also be found here. It is also known as the location of one the area's last Indian raids in 1841 (see historical maker at N 30° 18.364 W 097° 44.857).
“From 1871 to 1890, the Seiders operated a pleasure resort and playground at the springs. Baths were cut out of the limestone slope, covered with bathhouses and filled from the springs. A special feature was an ambulance which ran daily to and from the Avenue Hotel in town. In 1890, Ed Seiders sold the springs to a New York developer who tried unsuccessfully to establish a subdivision there. He built a dam at tile springs called Alamo Dam and featured swans and picnic tables on the shores. The dam, along with the Colorado River dam, was destroyed in the flood of 1900.” [source: Charles Brian Owen “Seiders Springs” (visit link) ]
A fair bit of history is available on the site – links are included in the endnotes.[Though I’ve not been able to find anything on the Saint at the springs – any info would be appreciated!!!]
But that’s not why you’re here Earthcaching. The earth science mechanics of this cache are nearly identical to GC26DNK CTU – WATER FROM A STONE (Edwards Aquifer), but where THAT cache requires a technical hike to see the Edwards Aquifer in action, this spot is essentially wheelchair accessible. [Why should hikers have all the fun with earth science, eh?]
The east ‘wall’ of this little stretch of the Shoal Creek basin is a layered limestone face. The limestone here is essentially Edwards Formation. Particularly susceptible to “chemical weathering processes” (e.g. the rock dissolves in water), the Edwards Formation is, in a word, perforated. These holes vary from microscopic to full-on cavern systems, and karst features are typical. As you examine the east wall from ground zero, you can see this writ in stone, as it were.
All those holes – vugs, voids, caverns – form a system of arteries and capillaries, which water loves to travel THROUGH rather than over. More, the Edwards Formation has been bracketed by denser rock – making it rather like a sponge cake between layers of hard candy frosting. And where this ‘sponge cake’ is exposed – by faulting action and/or erosion – the water comes tumbling out in seeps and springs. Certainly Barton Springs is the most exciting local example, but throughout Central Texas springs, grottos, seeps, and creeks from ‘nowhere’ abound. Most owing their ‘spring’ to the Edwards Aquifer.
This water movement is not simply local runoff. Au contraire! According to the Edwards Aquifer Website (visit link) “Because the movement of water in the Aquifer is highly complex, the waters we pump from the ground and drink are a mixture of waters of many different ages. In some places water moves only a few feet a day, but in other places water may move 1000 feet a day or more…. The average residence time for water in the aquifer is around 200 years, so much of the water that [for example] San Antonians drink today probably went underground around the time of the American Revolution.”
It should also be noted, in “all karst aquifers, most of the water storage occurs in the matrix, and most of the water movement occurs in conduits. In the Edwards, there are many large caverns, but one should not picture the underground reservoir as a vast pool. Rather, think of it as a saturated sponge with pipes. The rock matrix has many pore spaces similar to the holes in a sponge, and some of them are connected by well defined conduits through which water can readily flow. Pores that are not connected to other pores or to a conduit cannot provide much water. The measure of pores that are connected and can provide water is called effective porosity. Water enters the Aquifer easily in the recharge zone, but the subsurface drainage is generally inadequate to hold all the water that falls in large rain events. Recharge conduits and sinkholes quickly become filled up with water. This is one reason why the region floods so easily. The honeycombed rock matrix stores 95% of the water in the Aquifer. To move long distances, water leaves the matrix and enters a well-defined conduit [such as a river or creek], where it may be transmitted very far rather quickly.”
KEEP THE WATER FLOWING ===================================
Evidence exists that the springs here have flowed for generations.
Quoting the Owen “Seiders Springs” article again: “From 1847 to 1865 Fort Austin and other army forts used water from the springs. The old concrete bridge beside the West 34th Street bridge over Shoal Creek dates back to the 1850s, when it was part of the principal road leaving Austin to the west. General Robert E. Lee once camped near the springs ... In 1865, General George Armstrong Custer camped at the springs with his men on Glenn Ridge, probably where Shoal Creek Hospital stands today. He was military governor of Texas for a few months, and his relationship with the people of Austin can best be described as mutual admiration. He sincerely liked and admired the people of Texas, and they responded in kind. Custer wrote his family that ‘Texas is the real future of America,’ and urged them to move here. The Texas Legislature was the only state legislature to send official condolences to Custer's family after his death at Little Big Horn.” But I digress.
The springs were very nearly lost in a flurry of downtown building back in the 1960s & 70s. Scott Swearingen describes the moment: “The land on the creek that presently houses Seton Hospital contains a set of free-flowing springs, named Seiders Springs. The original plan to build Seton would have ruined the spring and used land the Fishes wanted for the [Shoal Creek] Hike and Bike. Russell and the landowner fought at the city council, Russell asking that the landowner not be given the right to build over the spring. ‘We are friends again now, but we fought bitterly over that land,’ says Russell. The owner eventually agreed to set the hospital back so as not to destroy the spring, and gave the trail a right-of-way. In 1976 three sisters descended from original settlers, the Seiders, gave a $10,000 donation to restore the park at the springs where they had grown up. This donation allowed the city to create Seiders Park, presently the northern terminus of the trail. [scott swearingen Blog “The first Hike and Bike: Janet Fish and the Shoal Creek trail” (visit link) ]
Yay for visionaries – or at least sentimentalists.
IF YOU WANT TO READ FURTHER ============================
There is a fair bit of reading out there on the various local rock formations, as well as the history of Seiders Springs.
The University of Texas at Austin: Virtual Landscapes of Texas: (visit link) , particularly in the Fourth annual report of the Geological Survey of Texas Publication 5235917-4 (visit link) (their search function is very good)
Bedrock Geology of Round Rock and Surrounding Areas,
Williamson and Travis Counties, Texas; Todd B. Housh: (visit link)
Stratigraphy of the Fredericksburg Division, South-Central Texas; Clyde H. Moore, Jr.: (visit link)
Edwards Aquifer Website: (visit link)
Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin; “Geologic Quadrangle Map No. 38: Austin West, Travis County, Texas”: (visit link)
EDWARDS AQUIFERNORTHERN SEGMENT, TRAVIS, WILLIAMSON, AND BELL COUNTIES, TEXAS C. M. Woodruff, Jr., Fred Snyder,Laura De La Garza, and Raymond M. Slade, Jr., Coordinators GUIDEBOOK 8 AUSTIN GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 1985 (visit link)
Edwards Aquifer Website: (visit link)
“Edwards Formation (Lower Cretaceous), Texas; dolomitization in a carbonate platform system”; W. L. Fisher, and Peter U. Rodda: (visit link)
EDWARDS LIMESTONE OUTCROP ALONG BARTON CREEK, Sue Hovorka; GROUNDWATER RECHARGE IN TEXAS, Bridget Scanlon; BARTON SPRINGS: WATER QUALITY AND ENDANGERED SPECIES, David A. Johns (visit link)
Encyclopedia > Geology of Texas; (visit link)
Geologic maps of Texas: (visit link)
Geology of the Brushy Creek quadrangle, Williamson County, Texas. Austin, The University of Texas at Austin; Dick E. Atchison, 1954, M.A. thesis (aka "Atchison (1954)"
Symposium on Edwards Limestone in Central Texas, E.Lozo, H. F. Nelson, Keith Young, B.Shelburne, and J. R. Sandidge (visit link) (Check out the chapter “Edwards Fossils as Depth Indicators”!!!)
Texas Geology - Map of Texas (visit link)
Zilker Park Walking Tour Guidebook: A Recreational Visit to the Edwards Limestone (visit link)
Edwards Aquifer Response to 2011 Japan Earthquake (visit link) or google "edwards aquifer response to japan quake"
AND FOR AN INTRO TO SEIDERS SPRINGS HISTORY, SEE: (visit link)
Wikipedia article on Seiders Springs (visit link)
Scott Swearingen Blog “The first Hike and Bike: Janet Fish and the Shoal Creek trail” (visit link)
Seiders Springs by Charles Brian Owen (visit link)
Seiders Springs Park (between 38th & 34th Streets) (visit link)
Seiders Oaks (visit link)
THANK YOU FOR VISITING OUR EARTHCACHE!!! ===================
We hope you enjoyed this great marvel of nature -- right in downtown Austin!!!
NOTE: LOGS WITHOUT VERIFYING EMAIL WILL BE REGRETFULLY DELETED (though not without due notice).
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- Hydrogeologic Cross-Section Edwards AquiferThis particular cross section shows exposures by the drops of the Balcones Fault Zone, and how blockage to the conduits of the Aquifer then cause the water to squirt up the fault line and out.... or just out when exposed.
- Seiders Springs
Last Updated: on 3/18/2015 8:47:09 PM Pacific Daylight Time (3:47 AM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum