September 15, 2014
Big Bend National Park
I picked Big Bend National Park because though it is a desert region, it is one of the most beautiful views that you will ever see in West Texas.
You are so far out of any city that at night the sky looks like it has been blanketed by sleek black marble with little sparkling diamonds splayed all over. The sky is so clear that you can see the Milky Way clearly; it is truly a breath-taking site. There are various rivers, canyons, and mesas. There are different kinds of species that live out in this ecosystem.
In order to explain the structural feature of Big Bend I will first explain to you about tectonic plates. Tectonic plates that are under the Earth’s surface shift and change the structure of the surface. This can also cause deformities to the Earth’s crust. “Faulting, Folding, and Jointing are the three different kinds of common structural features that can be found within the park,” (maroon.com, 2014). A good example of this is, the Boquillas Canyon where many different faults are located scattered all around the canyon. One of the mountains located near the entrance of the park is a good example of a thrust fault. A thrust fault is a compressed force in the Earth’s crust. “Juniper canyon is a good example of a fault block structure,” (marron.com, 2014). Fault Blocks are when numerous normal faults happen and a layer of rock get in between them and create a block. One of the principle peaks of the Chisos Mountains is a good example of syncline. Syncline is formed by the folding of the Earth’s crust. It causes compressed layers of rocks to bend down. The Boquillas Canyon is also a good example for jointing. This occurs when a fracture cuts across layers of rocks. However, no displacement occurs as it does with faults.
The functional dynamic of Big Bend National Park are the air quality, climate, ground water, seeps, springs, and streams. The air quality is class I reflecting the wilderness and conditions of the atmosphere. “The climate is a primary driver of ecosystem structure and function in the Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion. Spatial and temporal variability in precipitation and temperature extremes set the limits for community composition and productivity in these semi-arid environments,” (National Park Services & US Department of the Interior, 2010). Ground Water is the most limiting factor in the Chihuahuan desert. Which is essential to the survival of different species in the park. Seeps and springs represent the perennial surface water. There are many seeps and springs located all over Big Bend. One of the biggest and most protected streams is the 300-mile long Rio Grande. The Rio Grande supports biological hot spots and expansive and semi-arid landscapes.
The effects that humans that have affected the cycling of matter in Big Bend National Park is the pollution they have created by building coal burning power plants in Texas. Even in Mexico, they have polluted so much that you can only see 50 miles of the park as opposed to the 180 miles across the landscape. The way the Nitrogen and Phosphorus cycle has been affected is that Mexico have been dumping there garbage in the Rio Grande for years. Which has caused the ppm of nitrites to increase to .07, which is above a healthy level.
I having the knowledge about Big Bend National Park structure and function has helped in the management in the park. For instance, frequent air quality tests and surveys give the park staff the information needed in order to quickly deal with any issues that may arise. Frequent test of wind velocity, humidity, photosynthetically active radiation, and total radiation give the information to environmental conditions. This will give the staff the insight on what changes need to be done before it gets to a point of no return. The monitoring of ground water,