Summary of the Snake River plain Regional Aquifer-System Analysis in Idaho and eastern Oregon

Open-File Report 91-98




The 15,600 sq mi Snake River Plain in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon was studied as part of the U.S. Geological Survey's Regional Aquifer-System Analysis program. Quaternary basalt of the Snake River Group underlies most of the 10,800 square mile eastern plain and constitutes the most productive aquifers. Transmissivity of the upper 200 feet of the basalt aquifer commonly ranges from 100,000 to 1,000,000 square feet per day. Vertical hydraulic conductivity is several orders of magnitude lower than horizontal hydraulic conductivity and is related to the degree of jointing. Alluvial sand and gravel in the Boise River valley constitutes the most productive aquifers in the 4,800 square mile western plain. Along much of its length, the Snake River gains groundwater. Between Milner and King Hill, the river gained 4.7 million acre-ft in 1980, most as spring flow from the north side. The chemical composition of groundwater in the plain is essentially the same as that in streams and ground- water from tributary drainage basins. The use of surface water for irrigation for 100 years has caused major changes in the hydrologic system on the plain. During that time, recharge on the main part of the eastern plain increased about 70 percent, discharge about 80 percent. In 1980, about 8.9 million acre-ft of Snake River water was diverted and 2.3 million acre-ft of groundwater was pumped from 5,300 wells for irrigation.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Summary of the Snake River plain Regional Aquifer-System Analysis in Idaho and eastern Oregon
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey ; U.S. Geological Survey, Books and Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
v, 62 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.