Earth Sciences Report 1982-03

Author(s) Date 1982-12-31

Many springs in Alberta have been studied and observed - some observations date back as far as 1898. In the recent past, various authors and organizations have made observations and published a few studies. This report looks at about 600 springs on a provincial scale.

Alberta has a variety of springs, a variety which is directly related to geology and lithology, to the topography and, thus, to groundwater flow, and to the position of a spring relative to a particular physiographic region. The first part of this report looks at the spatial distribution of the springs by region, flow rate, water temperature and water chemistry. In the second part, the report describes in detail several springs that were chosen because of the magnitude of their discharge (Maligne Canyon karst springs), or because of their geological and lithological setting (Storm Creek Springs, Butte Springs, and Bow Island Spring), or because of associated mineral depositions and their chemical characteristics (La Saline Spring, Obed Spring).

Springs having the largest discharge and the least mineralization are generally found in the Rocky Mountains where fracture, fissure, and cavity-type permeabilities are encountered, together with steep groundwater gradients, relatively short flow systems, large amounts of precipitation, and proximity to recharge areas. Away from the Rocky Mountains and towards the northeast and the southeast of the province, the character of the permeability changes to an intergranular type, although there is some fracturing of the sediments in the plains. Groundwater gradients are moderate and flow systems are possibly longer than in the mountains. Water quality deteriorates towards the northeast and the southeast. In general, spring waters change from a calcium-magnesium bicarbonate type in the Rocky Mountains to a calcium-magnesium sulphate or sodium-sulphate type in the Interior Plains to a sodium-chloride type in the Devonian subcrop area in northeastern Alberta.

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Borneuf, D.M. (1983): Springs of Alberta; Alberta Research Council, ARC/AGS Earth Sciences Report 1982-03, 105 p.