Tue, Aug. 20

1960: MONTEZUMA WELL Mysteries Studied, October.

"A significant step toward gathering information concerning fresh water bodies in Arizona, about which very little is known, is being made at Montezuma Well. Under a two year National Science Foundation grant of $23,200, Dr. Gerald A. Cole, Arizona State University associate professor of zoology, is conducting a study of 'Community Metabolism in Montezuma Well.'"

"His scientific investigation of the plant and animal life and the geographical and physical features (known as limnology) is a significant step toward gaining much needed information on the subject."

"Careful mapping of the basin and subsurface contours has already been completed by means of over 380 soundings made at two-meter intervals along calibrated lines."

"The study is being conducted under a collaborator's permit from the United States Department of Interior, National Parks Service, under the supervision of the area superintendent, Albert G. Henson."

"In mapping the well, Dr. Cole has found much of it to be around 50 feet deep. However, there are two spots on the bottom where funnel-shaped fissures have been located, one of which is more than 100 feet deep. In these fissures, the water is softer, according to analyses already made in the ASU laboratories."

"Also in these deep spots, the researchers have located bottom sand, clean and very different from the rich, organic ooze covering the rest of the bottom. The presence of this clean, washed sand could indicate that these are water inlets, Dr. Cole points out. Where the water comes in to replace the one and a half million gallons a day which flow out has been one of the mysteries of the well."

"While the research project still is in its early stages, several unusual facts already have been discovered. As a rule, in fresh water bodies, the cooler, heavier water is at the bottom. At the well the temperature tests have revealed that the surface water and that at the bottom are warmest, while the middle layer is colder, again indicating that warmer water may be coming in so fast at the bottom that the heavier, colder water cannot sink all the way down."

"A marginal bed of pond weeds, surrounding the well, is loaded with aquatic insects, Dr. Cole said. Frogs and turtles also are found in the water, but no fish, a fortunate thing for the researchers since fish would eat the insects."

"An unusually large number of water scorpions live in the water, and a great layer of crustaceans beginning about 12 feet below the surface. These shrimp-like amphipod and cyclops crustaceans swim freely about, not only in the pond weed area where they might be expected, but out in the central, open water as well."

"The layer of animal life at the 12-foot level is so thick that, according to reports, a skin diver claimed the sun was blotted out and the water became completely black as he went below this layer."

"Dr. Cole says the environment at Montezuma Well is different than at any of the lakes he previously studied."

(The Verde Independent; Cottonwood; Thursday, October 13, 1960; Section 2, page 4, columns 1-2.)