About Field Sites
The NEON site at Moab (MOAB) is a terrestrial field site about 40 km (25 mi.) south of the town of Moab in San Juan County, Utah, on the Colorado Plateau. Its sampling area is 50km2 (12,355 acres) on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The terrain at the tower site is flat with a very shallow slope towards the southwest. This is a key design element because the winds mostly come from this direction, allowing NEON to best measure dust generation and deposition. Vegetation is a mix of grasses and forbs with a uniform distribution, and the site is lightly grazed. The structure of this type of vegetation is representative of the dominant vegetation of the region. MOAB is part of NEON's Southern Rockies and Colorado Plateau Domain (D13). D13 includes one other terrestrial site and two aquatic sites. MOAB is not colocated with an aquatic field site. MOAB is managed out of the D15 Support Facility in Salt Lake City, UT.  
MOAB is located on the Colorado Plateau, a high desert region that experiences cold winters, hot summers, and wide temperature fluctuations between day and night. Due to the region's relatively high elevation, the area experiences cold winters. Summer days are typically hot and can reach 38°C (100°F), but summer nights are cool. The average annual temperature at the site is 10.1°C (50°F). The average annual precipitation is low compared to other NEON sites at 320 mm (12.6 in.). However, the region receives large quantities of precipitation in the form of late summer thunderstorms. These monsoons bring violent storm cells that cause flash floods.  
The geology at this site is composed of eolian deposits overlying sandstones and mudstones. The major nearby geologic units are Morrison, Entrada, Carmel, and Navajo Formations, which were formed during the Jurassic period.  
The predominant soil series encountered at MOAB are Begay, Ignacio, Mivida, Rizno, and Windwhistle. 
MOAB is within the Colorado River watershed. Water flows northwest from the NEON site and into Hatch Wash. 
Dominant plant species around the tower include fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), Mormon tea (Ephedra viridis), and blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis). Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis) and Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) make up the canopy composition in the higher elevations. 
Just a few of the animals living near the MOAB site include pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), American black bear (Ursus americanus), midget faded rattlesnake (Crotalus concolor), and giant hairy scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis). NEON samples for ticks, mosquitoes, beetles, birds, and small mammals. Some animals frequently sampled include Pinyon deermouse (Peromyscus truei), North American deermouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), and northern grasshopper mouse (Onychomys leucogaster). 
Past Land Management and Use
As early as 10,000 years ago, the Ancestral Puebloans inhabited Moab, followed later by the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute). Mormon missionaries tried to settle in Moab in 1855, but Ute resistance rendered the attempt unsuccessful until the first permanent settlement in 1877. In the 1890s, the population grew as mining and the building of the railroad commenced. Mining for uranium started in 1952 and nearly tripled the population in three years; this mining operation ceased around 1983. Moab is also home to the USGS Southwest Biological Science Center, conducting terrestrial and aquatic research in the area. In 2009, The Nature Conservancy opened the Canyonlands Research Center to study climate change and develop sustainable land management practices. The town of Moab is also considered a gateway to a few national parks, so the region attracts vast numbers of visitors each year.    
Current Land Management and Use
The site is on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administered property. The BLM has a multiple-use approach to land management, as outlined in Resource Management Plans, prepared in accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. The overarching land use in the area is rangeland. The site is also open to the public and includes the Looking Glass Rock and Wilson Arch recreation areas.  
NEON Site Establishment
Plot establishment at MOAB was initiated in May 2015. Both TOS and TIS data collection methods were operational by August 2017, signaling transition to full operations.
 Rissler, Erik, et. al. (2017). NEON Site-Specific EHS Plan D13RT1 MOAB.
 Terrestrial Observation System (TOS) Site Characterization Report: Domain 13. NEON.DOC.003896vB
 Parslow,Victor. (2017) NEON Site Level Plot Summary, MOAB (MOAB), July 2017. United States Department of Agriculture. https://data.neonscience.org/documents/10179/2361410/MOAB_Soil_SiteSumm…
 Terrestrial Instrument System (TIS, FIU) Site Characterization Supporting Data: Domain 13. NEON.DOC.011063vD
 U.S. Geological Survey, 2005, Mineral Resources Data System: U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia. https://mrdata.usgs.gov/mrds/
 PRISM Climate Group., Oregon State University, http://prism.oregonstate.edu, created 4 Feb 2004.
Remote sensing surveys of this field site collect lidar, spectrometer and high-resolution RGB camera data.
This site has a flux/meteorological tower that is 8 m (26 ft) tall with four measurement levels. The tower top extends above the vegetation canopy to allow sensors mounted at the top and along the tower to capture the full profile of atmospheric conditions from the top of the vegetation canopy to the ground. The tower collects physical and chemical properties of atmosphere-related processes, such as humidity, wind, and net ecosystem gas exchange. Precipitation data may be collected by a tipping bucket at the top of the tower, a Double Fence Intercomparison Reference (DFIR) near the tower.
One phenocam is attached to the top and the bottom of the tower. Here we show the images from the most recent hour. The full collection of images can be viewed on the Phenocam Gallery - click on either of the images below.
Soil Sensor Measurements
This site has five soil plots placed in an array within the airshed of the flux tower. Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) at soil surface, soil heat flux, and solar radiation are measured at the soil surface in each soil plot. Soil moisture, soil temperature, and CO2 concentration are measured at multiple depths in each soil plot.
At terrestrial sites, field ecologists observe birds and plants, and sample ground beetles, mosquitoes, small mammals, soil microbes, and ticks. Lab analyses are carried out to provide further data on DNA sequences, pathogens, soils, sediments, and biogeochemistry. Learn more about terrestrial observations or explore this site's data products.
Field Site Data
Bureau of Land Management
Site Access Allowed
Site Access Details
Reseachers should coordinate with the site manager.
NEON Field Operations Office
Domain 15 Support Facility
NEON Field Operations Address
2992 South Main Street
South Salt Lake City, UT 84115
NEON Field Operations Phone
Mean Annual Temperature
Mean Annual Precipitation
Dominant Wind Direction
Mean Canopy Height
Dominant NLCD Classes
Evergreen Forest, Shrub/Scrub
Average number of green days
Average first greenness increase date
Average peak green date
Average first greenness decrease date
Average minimum greenness date
Number of Tower Levels
Megapit Soil Family
Coarse-loamy - mixed - superactive - mesic Ustic Haplocalcids
Related Field Sites
Other Domain D13 Field Sites
Other Field Sites in UT