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GE 4930
Field Excursion to the Rio Sonora Basin, Mexico
Spring 2006

Rio Sonora Geology  Field Trip

Horizon view

Sonora Mexico  Alex MayerThe Rio Sonora is situated in Sonora state in northwest Mexico. The main branch of the river is approximately 300 km long and the river's watershed covers a total area of 29,000 km2. The average precipitation in the watershed is 412 mm/year, with a maximum of 552 mm/year in the northern, mountainous region and a minimum of 268 mm/year in the terminus of the watershed, where the state's largest city, Hermosillo, is located. Flows in the river near Hermosillo range from near zero in the late spring/early summer, to 16 m3/s on the "wet" months.

The Rio Sonora watershed, along with the entire state of Sonora, has experienced drought conditions for a decade. One of the consequences of the drought is than the only surface water reservoir for the city of Hermosillo has been empty for four years.

The tour covered the length of the Rio Sonora, from its terminus in the city of Hermosillo to its source near Cananea, where the largest copper mine in Mexico is located. The course studied how flows in the river are managed and what the sources of the water quality problems are in the basin. Students learned about the difficulties of managing a watershed under intensive pressures from growing municipal populations and expanding industry.They visited the Coste de Hermosillo region, which is a coastal basin that has experienced intensive groundwater pumping for irrigation, resulting in severe saltwater intrusion problems

Horizon view 2

Rio SonraPacific cactus


map of route

View the2006 Rio Sonora Mexico Field Trip Slide Show of Pictures Set 1

View the2006 Rio Sonora Mexico Field Trip Slide Show of Pictures Set 2