Las Vegas is a desert city, and it’s hard to imagine that this region was once a wetlands area. However, there is evidence that the current desert land has not always been so, and once upon a time, it was thriving, flowing with water flora and fauna of different kinds.
History of the Wetlands
Unbelievable as it sounds, thousands of years ago, the area was lush with water flowing down from the mountains. Streams and springs provided water in the area, supporting an ecosystem of plants and trees, which were the natural habitat of all kinds of animals like mammoths, wolves and camels.
Between 8500 and 11000 years ago, things started changing, and the area began drying up. The water sources bringing water into the valley ceased to flow. This was just the beginning of a much bigger aridification process that led to the area becoming a complete desert as it is now. This information is from scientific researchers from the United States Geological Survey after assessing the Las Vegas region and conducting lots of research to come up with this conclusion.
Tule Springs is currently a national monument that has played a significant role in researching previous marsh and wetlands areas and the impact of climate change. It comprises small lakes forming an oasis in the Mojave Desert in Las Vegas.
The area has substantial amounts of tufa, a limestone that has helped the research process. The researchers use radiocarbon dating to put the timelines into perspective of how long ago events happened and how the once lush area morphed into a desert.
The Tule Springs is a small part of what remains of what used to be a wetland, and there are other few areas, like the Springs Preserve and Corn Creek, which have stood the test of time and serve as a memory of previous hydrologies.
The monument is a remarkable landmark that preserves evidence of past climates, which can be useful for further research. There are also excavation sites where researchers and geologists found fossils from thousands of years ago, supporting theories of prehistoric animal existence in the area. For a more detailed look at some of these sites, interested guests can book an appointment with the protectors of the area to the quarries. Getting to one of the main quarries is a hike, but it is worth the trip for educational and recreational benefits. For example, visiting the Super Quarry, where bones of mammoths and other paleontological finds were discovered.