eNews November 2022

UNM Graduate Student Funded for Research Project to Study Water Quality Within the Valles Caldera

UNM Graduate Student Funded for Research Project to Study Water Quality Within the Valles Caldera

By Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Program Manager

The Valles Caldera is a resurgent caldera that lies within the Jemez Volcanic Field in north-central New Mexico. Snowmelt within the Valles Caldera provides headwaters for the Jemez River, one of the inputs into the Middle Rio Grande Basin near Bernalillo, New Mexico. Previous research has examined the effects of springs outside the caldera on Jemez River water quality. Daniel Lavery, a graduate student at The University of New Mexico, has been awarded an NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant to expand on this work and investigate the effects of the caldera’s acid-sulfate geothermal springs on surface water quality.

Under the guidance of his faculty advisor, Dr. Laura Crossey, Lavery’s project focuses on the effects of geothermal springs on surface water quality and the natural attenuation of geothermal sulfur and metals. Sulphur Creek is a geothermally-affected stream within the resurgent dome of the Valles Caldera and receives low-pH, high-in-metals geothermal inputs from discrete (Sulphur Springs) and diffuse (Alamo Canyon) sources. According to Lavery, preliminary data indicate a spike in in-stream concentrations of sulfate, aluminum, and iron. Still, these concentrations are effectively attenuated downstream when Sulphur Creek waters mix with freshwaters in Redondo Creek and Rio San Antonio.

The project, aptly named Fate of Sulfur in Sulphur Creek, Valles Caldera, NM: Implications for metal transport and water quality in geothermal systems, aims to determine the effect of the Valles acid-sulfate geothermal system on surface water quality within the caldera and the attenuative processes for dissolved geothermal components in these surface waters. This requires collecting field samples along Sulphur Creek at confluences and known sites of geothermal inputs.

According to Lavery, this research has implications for the use of the Jemez River as a water source in the future. “This research is expected to result in a better understanding of the attenuative processes of metals and sulfur in geothermally-affected surface waters. The Jemez River has stakeholders, including Indigenous communities, along its length and is a significant riverine input to the Middle Rio Grande Basin near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Any change in the attenuative capacity of the Jemez River watershed may have significant implications for its continued use as a water resource.” Lavery presented his research at the 67th Annual New Mexico Water Conference in Las Cruces and plans to present at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in Chicago.

Lavery, originally from Sugar Land, Texas, is working on his Master of Science degree, majoring in Earth and Planetary Science. After graduation, Lavery would like to remain in New Mexico, working for either the U.S. Geological Survey or a local environmental consulting firm.

eNews November 2022

Meet the Researcher, Ivette Guzmán, Associate Professor, New Mexico State University

Meet the Researcher, Ivette Guzmán, Associate Professor, New Mexico State University

By Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

Ivette Guzmán is an Associate Professor of Horticulture for the Plant and Environmental Sciences Department at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Since joining NMSU in 2016, she has taught four courses, including Introductory Plant Science and Medicinal Herbs. Guzmán also advises undergraduate and graduate horticulture students and mentors them in their coursework and research projects. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Guzmán is currently the co-director of the National Institutes of Health Maximizing Access to Research Careers program at NMSU. This program encourages and supports undergraduates from underrepresented populations to participate in research and pursue research-related careers.

Guzmán is currently collaborating with the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) as a Co-PI on a USDA Organic Transitions grant titled, Expanding Organic Systems to Reduce Water Demand and Increase Agricultural Resilience in the Southwest project. This research project aims to identify agricultural and water resilience pathways for arid and semi-arid small farms and synthesize those understandings into an organic system planning toolkit. Guzmán will work with the grant team to reach farmers in southern New Mexico to find high-value crops for the region. Regarding future collaboration with the Institute, Guzmán hopes to continue her research with NM WRRI’s water scientists in studying regional and statewide water issues.

Guzmán’s previous research involved studying onions in New Mexico and their response to environmental stressors, such as drought or high-saline water sources. During this project, the goals of her experiment involved 1) understanding the impacts of stressors as mentioned above on the onion’s photosynthetic process, and 2) finding onion varieties that better manage such stressors. According to Guzmán, the most significant issues in her field of work include finding vegetable crops that can be grown in environments with high stress related to water quality and obtaining crop yields that have an increased nutritional and medicinal value to promote human health.

Guzmán received her BS and MS in Biology from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Texas Woman’s University in Denton, respectively. Her PhD in Agronomy and Horticulture, with a focus on carotenogenesis for the production of pro-vitamin A in Capsicum annuum, was earned from NMSU. Guzmán states her motivation for becoming a researcher originated from her initial interest in pre-med-focused biology but later changed her academic path to food production and chemistry. Within this field, she strives to understand the best way to grow food in an ever-changing environment.

Guzmán plans to continue her research in plant physiology in response to environmental stress and expand her studies into monitoring food quality exposed to similar stresses. Aside from her research, Guzmán states, “I have many responsibilities in my role as Associate Professor of Horticulture, but my favorite responsibility is helping students develop their career goals and see them build self-confidence while gaining knowledge to achieve their goals. The best thing to hear from a student is that they no longer doubt they can achieve their dreams.”