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Tinajas in Lincoln County, Nevada

A tinaja [tiˈnaxa] is a surface pocket (depression) formed in bedrock that occurs below waterfalls, that is carved out by spring flow or seepage,[1] or that is caused by sand and gravel scouring in intermittent streams (arroyos).[2][3] Tinajas are an important source of surface water storage in arid environments.[2][4]

These relatively rare landforms are important ecologically, because they support unique plant communities and provide important services to terrestrial wildlife.[5]

The term originates in Spain, being Spanish for "clay jar", and is used in the American Southwest.



  1. ^ Osterkamp, W. R. 2008. Annotated Definitions of Selected Geomorphic Terms and Related Terms of Hydrology, Sedimentology, Soil Science and Ecology: Reston, Virginia, Open File Report 2008-1217, pp 49
  2. ^ a b Fox, William (2005). Desert Water. Portland, Oregon: Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-55868-858-2.
  3. ^ Mabbutt, J. A. (1977). Desert Landforms. Canberra: Australian National University Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-7081-0437-8.
  4. ^ Brown, T. B. and R. R. Johnson. 1983. The distribution of bedrock depressions (tinajas) as sources of surface water in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona. Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science 18: 61-68.
  5. ^ National Park Service (NPS). 2006. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Ecological Monitoring Report, 1997–2005, Chapter 14: Water Quality.http://www.nps.gov/orpi/naturescience/orpi-ecological-monitoring-report.htm

External links[edit]

The dictionary definition of tinaja at Wiktionary