Tater Hill Groundwater Monitoring and Research Station
Watauga County, NC
The Tater Hill groundwater monitoring and research station is located in Watauga County, one of high counties in the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province of Western North Carolina. We have little knowledge about aquifers of the Blue Ridge Province which occupies approximately 10 percent of the area of the state. The study area is in northern Watauga County, NC, about five miles north of Boone. It is located at a relatively high altitude and adjacent to a classified trout stream (Howard Creek), approximately 1,600 feet down-gradient of Tater Hill Lake (also known as Potato Hill Lake prior to a dam failure in 1978) at the headwaters of four major river systems: the Yadkin, New-Kanawha, Catawba, and Tennessee Rivers in the center of the southern Appalachian Mountains. The Tater Hill Lake basin drains to Howard Creek through its tributaries and then the Howard Creek drains to the New River. The study area is rugged and forested land owned by The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land conservation organization. The relief in the area is on the order of 800 feet, with elevations ranging from 4000 feet along the creek (from the Tater Hill Lake to Howard Creek) to 4800 feet above sea level at Harmon Knob with NNE-SSW trending and uneven trough. This station consists of three monitoring wells (two deep bedrock wells and a shallow regolith-transition zone well) and a stream gage (Figure 1).
Geologically, the Tater Hill station is underlain by two bedrock subunits of the Neoproterozoic Ashe Metamorphic Suite. The bedrock units consist of a dominant hornblende gneiss and schist unit (amphibolite) that covers the eastern and central parts of the area and a biotite schist unit that underlies the western edge of the area. This hydrogeologic setting was selected to study connections between components of the aquifer (regolith/transition zone/fractured bedrock), and between the aquifer and the stream, and the bog at this particular location. In addition, it provides a good opportunity to study chemical and hydraulic properties of the aquifer in high and rugged Blue Ridge Mountains.
NC DENR-DWQ-APS, 585 Waughtown St, Winston-Salem, NC 27107