East River Watershed Function SFA


38° 54' 4.0068" N, 106° 58' 59.2212" W
Brief Site Description: 
East River Watershed is located northeast of the town of Crested Butte, CO and covers an area of ca. 300 km2 at an average elevation of 3266 m.
Detailed Site Description: 

The East River Watershed SFA site encompasses the drainages of the East River, Washington Gulch, Slate River, and Coal Creek. The watershed is located northeast of the town of Crested Butte, CO and covers an area of ca. 300 km2 at an average elevation of 3266 m. Over the watershed’s 1420 m of topographic relief, pronounced gradients exist in hydrology, geomorphology, biome type or life zone (montane, subalpine, alpine), and extent of impact by historic mining activities and naturally mineralized rock, with Slate River and Coal Creek more heavily impacted by heavy metals, such as arsenic, copper, cadmium, and zinc, than either the East River or Washington Gulch. The watershed has a mean annual temperature of ~0 oC, with average minimum and maximum temperatures of -9.2 oC and 9.8 oC, respectively. The watershed receives ca. 600 mm of precipitation per year, the bulk of which falls as snow, and is representative of many other headwaters systems within the upper Colorado River Basin. The East River is one of two major tributaries that form the Gunnison River, which in turn accounts for just under half of the Colorado River’s discharge at the Colorado/Utah border.

More information about the East River Watershed SFA site is provided here.

Site Data: A Community Watershed Interactive Portal identifies sites where the SFA team and collaborators are acquiring different types of measurements within the watershed. Prospective collaborators or investigators with questions are encouraged to reach out to Susan Hubbard.

East River Watershed

The project is supported by DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER), within DOE’s Office of Science, as part of BER’s Subsurface Biogeochemical Research (SBR) program.

Field Site Type: 
US affiliate
Study Start Date: 
Mean Annual Precipitation: 
600 millimeters / year
Average Annual Temperature: 
Average Summer Temperature: 
Average Winter Temperature: 
Land Cover: 
Mixed Forest
other sedimentary
other igneous
Soil Order: 
Hydrology: Name: 
East River
Hydrology: Surface water - Stream Flow Performance: 
Hydrology: Groundwater: 
Group visibility: 
Public - accessible to all site users