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Saline Seep Formation


- When fields in the recharge area are left fallow, there are no plants to utilize excess precipitation, and it enters the soil profile. 

- As the excess water percolates down through the soil profile, it accumulates soluble salts.   The bedrock in northern and eastern Montana has high salt concentrations also, and it acts as an impermeable layer that minimizes vertical ground water movement.  As a result, the ground water builds above the bedrock, causing an elevated (or artificial) water table that exerts increased hydraulic pressure on low lying areas.


- Where the water table is within 4 feet of the ground surface, a saline seep forms in the discharge area.  Through capillary action and evapotranspiration, salts accumulate on the ground surface, impeding vegetative growth.