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Ecological Sections: Southern Great Basin

Subsection 341Fd

Grapevine Mountains

This subsection includes the Grapevine Mountains on the northeast side of Death Valley and the Slate Range and Gold Mountain north of the Grapevine Mountains.  It has a hot to temperate, arid climate.    MLRA 29f.

Lithology and Stratigraphy.  The bedrock is mainly Paleozoic marine sedimentary and Tertiary and Quaternary volcanic rocks, plus Jurassic granitic rocks in the Slate Range.  Most of the Paleozoic is represented, at least from Cambrian through Carboniferous.  The volcanic rocks are mostly basalt and pyroclastics.  There is some Quaternary alluvium in small valleys.

Geomorphology.   This subsection contains steep mountains, moderately steep hills, and gently to moderately sloping alluvial fans.  Most of the Grapevine Mountains are aligned toward the north-west and the Slate Range and Gold Mountain are slightly curved toward the north-northeast to northeast.  The elevation range is from about 1000 feet up to 8331 in the Grapevine Mountains.  Mass wasting, fluvial and deposition, and freeze-thaw are the main geomorphic processes.

Soils.  The soils are mostly Lithic Torriorthents, shallow Typic and Xerollic Haplargids, and Aridic Argixerolls, plus Lithic Haplargids on volcanic rocks.  Soils on alluvial fans are mostly Typic Torriorthents, Typic Haplargids, and shallow Typic Durorthids.  The soils are well drained.   Soil temperature regimes are thermic and mesic.  Soil moisture regimes are aridic.

Vegetation.   The predominant natural plant communities, from lower to higher elevations are Mixed salt bush series, Shadscale series, Black bush series, Big sagebrush series, and Singleleaf pinyon series.

Characteristic series by lifeform include:

Grasslands: Indian ricegrass series, Needle-and-thread series.

Shrublands: Black bush series,  Catclaw acacia series,  Creosote bush series, Creosote bush - white bursage series, Hop-sage series, White bursage series.

Forests and woodlands: Bristlecone pine series, Curlleaf mountain-mahogany series, Singleleaf pinyon series, Singleleaf pinyon - Utah juniper series, Utah juniper series.
Climate.  The mean annual precipitation is about 4 to 10 inches.  Much of the precipitation is snow at higher elevations.  Mean annual temperature is about 40 to 72 F.  The mean freeze-free period is in the range from 150 to 275 days.

Surface Water.  Runoff is rapid.  It drains to Death Valley on the southwest or to Sarcobatus Flat or the Amargosa River on the east.  Streams are dry most of each year. 

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