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Jonathan Caine

Research Geologist

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Short Biography

Jonathan Saul Caine is a Research Geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.  His work is focused on characterization of fault zones, fracture networks, and fluid flow in the Earth’s upper crust.  He combines structural geology, hydrogeology, and detailed field studies to characterize fault zone architecture and permeability structure; fault rock textures and deformation mechanisms; conduct direct fault rock dating; and fault and fracture network related fluid flow as it pertains to groundwater supply, mineral deposits, hydrocarbon migration, environmental geochemistry of hydrothermally altered and complexly deformed crystalline-rock aquifer systems, particularly in alpine watersheds.  Caine also works closely with graduate students and colleagues at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the Colorado School of Mines.  He received his B.A and M.A. in Geology from S.U.N.Y, New Paltz (1986 and 1991) and his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Utah (1999) with concentration in Structural Geology and Hydrogeology.  Caine's work has been conducted in the northeastern Appalachains, the Basin and Range, east Greenland, the southern Rocky Mountains, and the Rio Grande rift. 



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Bove, Dana J.; Caine, Jonathan S.; Lowers, Heather A., 2012. Geologic and mineralogic controls on acid and metal-rich rock drainage in an alpine watershed, Handcart Gulch, Colorado. U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012-5067, vi, 121 p.; col. ill.; maps (col.); Appendices; Downloads Directory [Link]

Caine, J.S., Johnson, R.H., and Wild, E.C., 2011, Review and interpretation of previous work and new data on the hydrogeology of the Schwartzwalder Uranium Mine and vicinity, Jefferson County, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1092, 55 p. [Link]

Caine, Jonathan Saul; Bove, Dana J., 2010. Rock Geochemistry and Mineralogy from Fault Zones and Polymetallic Fault Veins of the Central Front Range, Colorado. U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 492, Report: iv, 6 p.; Tables (XLS, PDF) [Link]

Minsley, Burke J.; Ball, Lyndsay B.; Burton, Bethany L.; Caine, Jonathan S.; Curry-Elrod, Erika; Manning, Andrew H., 2010. Geophysical Characterization of Subsurface Properties Relevant to the Hydrology of the Standard Mine in Elk Basin, Colorado. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009-1284, vi, 41 p. [Link]

Caine, Jonathan S.; Manning, Andrew H.; Berger, Byron R.; Kremer, Yannick; Guzman, Mario A.; Eberl, Dennis D.; Schuller, Kathryn , 2010. Characterization of Geologic Structures and Host Rock Properties Relevant to the Hydrogeology of the Standard Mine in Elk Basin, Gunnison County, Colorado. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1008, v, 55 p. [Link]

Verplanck, Philip L.; Manning, Andrew H.; Kimball, Briant A.; McCleskey, R. Blaine; Runkel, Robert L.; Caine, Jonathan Saul; Adams, Monique; Gemery-Hill, Pamela A.; Fey, David L., 2008. Ground- and Surface-Water Chemistry of Handcart Gulch, Park County, Colorado, 2003-2006. Geological Survey (U.S.) Open-File Report 2007-1020, vi, 31 p. [Link]

Sanford, W. E.; Caine, J. S.; Wilcox, D. A.; McWreath, H. C.; Nicholas, J. R., 2006. Research opportunities in interdisciplinary ground-water science in the U.S. Geological Survey. Circular 1293, vi, 21 p. [Link]

Caine, Jonathan Saul; Manning, Andrew H.; Verplanck, Philip L.; Bove, Dana J.; Kahn, Katherine Gurley; Ge, Shemin, 2006. Well construction information, lithologic logs, water level data, and overview of research in Handcart Gulch, Colorado: an alpine watershed affected by metalliferous hydrothermal alteration. Open-File Report 2006-1189, iv, 13 p. [Link]

Caine, Jonathan Saul, 2006. Questa Baseline and Premining Ground-Water Quality Investigation 18. Characterization of Brittle Structures in the Questa Caldera and Their Potential Influence on Bedrock Ground-Water Flow, Red River Valley, New Mexico. Professional Paper 1729, v, 37 p. [Link]

Ludington, Steve; Plumlee, Geoff; Caine, Jonathan; Bove, Dana; Holloway, JoAnn; Livo, Eric , 2005, Questa baseline and pre-mining ground-water quality investigation. 10. Geologic influences on ground and surface waters in the lower Red River watershed, New Mexico. Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5245, 46 p. [Link]

Bossong, Clifford R.; Caine, Jonathan Saul; Stannard, David I.; Flynn, Jennifer L.; Stevens, Michael R.; Heiny-Dash, Janet S., 2003. Hydrologic conditions and assessment of water resources in the Turkey Creek watershed, Jefferson County, Colorado, 1998-2001. Water-Resources Investigations Report 2003-4034, 140 p., 45 figs. [Link]

Caine, Jonathan Saul, 2003. Questa baseline and pre-mining ground-water quality investigation 6: preliminary brittle structural geologic data, Questa mining district, southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New Mexico. Open-File Report 2003-280, 24 p. [Link]

Caine, Jonathan Saul, 2001. Fracture network, fault zone, and geologic data collected from the Turkey Creek watershed, Colorado Rocky Mountain Front Range. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2001-416, 46 p. [Link]


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Natural Resourcesenergy resources
Geologic Processesfaulting
Environmental Issuesabandoned mines and quarries
Geologic Processesrock deformation
Earth Characteristicsgeologic structure
Natural Resourcesgeothermal resources
Natural Resourcesmineral resources
Natural Resourceswater resources
Natural Resourceswell drilling
Water Resourcesaquifers
Water Resourcesdrainage basins
Water Resourcesground water
Water Resourceswater use

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Energy & Minerals for America's Future

A Water Census of the United States

A National Hazard, Risk, and Resilience Assessment Program

Characterization of Fault Zones, Fracture Networks, and Fluid Flow

Image of Current Focus for Characterization of Fault Zones, Fracture Networks, and Fluid Flow

Fault zones are distinctive mechanical and hydrologic heterogeneities in the Earth's upper crust. Characterization of their physical properties involves detailed mapping at a variety of scales; kinematic and mechanical analyses; fracture network data collection and modeling; and sampling for microstructural evidence of deformation mechanisms, geochemistry, petrophysics, and determination of age using argon geochronology.  Fault zone characterization is important for understanding a number of geological processes that ultimately control the formation and sustainable use of a number of resources such as groundwater, metallic mineral deposits, hydrocarbons, geothermal energy, and for understanding earthquake processes.  

Hydrogeology in Complexly Deformed Crystalline-Rock Watersheds Affected by Metallic Mineral Deposits

Image of Hydrogeology in Complexly Deformed Crystalline-Rock Watersheds Affected by Metallic Mineral Deposits

Numerous alpine watersheds in the intermountain west are impacted by natural and mine-related acid rock drainage.  These areas are critical headwater regions at the top of the hydrologic cycle where groundwater is recharged, ecosystems are sustained, and sensitivity to climate change is high.  Many such watersheds contain unmined mineral occurrences composed primarily of pyrite with numerous trace metals toxic to aquatic biota.  The USGS Handcart Gulch Research watershed along the Continental Divide in central Colorado is an example site typical of many mineral deposit impacted sites (Please see more information).  It is unique because of a set of deep and shallow groundwater wells, a stream gauge, a meteorological station, and extensive time series data sets used to conduct integrated studies of processes involved with the liberation, transport, and fate of naturally occurring acid-rock drainage and the monitoring of climate change in such environments.  Commonly, such watersheds are underlain by complexly deformed crystalline rocks where the occurrence, storage, and flow of ground water is poorly understood.  These environments are also characterized by high to extreme hydraulic gradients and heterogeneous networks of fractures and faults that control the ground-water flow system and contaminant transport.  Integrating geological, hydrological, geochemical, water age, temperature and geophysical data in a series of numerical flow models, we find that groundwater flow at the watershed scale can be conceptualized using a relatively simple equivalent porous media approach.  We also find that groundwater comprises a significant component of discharge to the trunk stream, about 37 percent of the total annual stream flow.  The work to date suggests that in spite of low bulk permeability and various geologic complexities, hydrologic contributions from fractured crystalline bedrock rock should be carefully considered when evaluating alpine ground-water flow systems.


Contact Information

Jonathan Caine
W 6th Ave Kipling St
Lakewood, CO 80225
303-236-1425 - Fax
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