Geology and underground waters of the Arkansas Valley in eastern Colorado

Professional Paper 52




In the valley of Arkansas River in southeastern Colorado there is an area of considerable extent in which artesian flows are available. During the last ten years numerous wells have been sunk to develop this important resource and, in most cases in the lower lands, abundant water supplies have been obtained. The principal water-bearing bed is the "Dakota" formation, which consists of two sheets of porous sandstone separated by a small body of clay and overlain in the greater portion of the area by a mass of impervious shales. The sandstones receive their waters from, rainfall and from the sinking of streams along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and on some of the higher slopes south of the Arkansas Valley. In the passage of this sandstone underground, the waters which it contains are held down by the overlying shales, but, as some of the sandstone outcrops are at relatively low levels to the east only a moderate head or pressure is sustained. On account of this low head, artesian flows are available only in the lower lands, and one of the principal objects of this investigation has been the determination of the area in which flows are to be expected. The "Dakota" sandstone and associated formations do not lie level, or even slope regularly to the east, but are flexed into low arches and >shallow troughs of considerable complexity of configuration. Accordingly, in investigating this source of water supply, it has been necessarj7 to ascertain the structure and distribution of the various formations in order to indicate the variations in depth to the water-bearing stratum. The principal results of these investigations are set forth: (1) In the geologic map (PI. VI), which shows the distribution of the formations on the surface; (2) in the map, PI. XXV, which shows the depth to the water-bearing horizon, the area in which flows are expected, the head of the underground waters, and other features, and (3) in the cross sections (Pls. VII and XXIII), which show the principal underground features. The investigation has been in progress for several years and is an extension of the preliminary examination of the region by G. K. Gilbert in 1894 and 1895.

For the western portion of the area the maps and texts of the Pueblo, Elmoro, Walsenburg, Spanish Peaks, and Pikes Peak folios have been utilized as far as practicable. For the central and eastern portions the larger features of the geology have been specially mapped, and considerable detailed mapping has been done in the region south and southeast of Canyon and Colorado Springs. In the field work I have been assisted by Mr. C. A. Fisher, who has examined in detail the Nepesta quadrangle and contributed numerous other data. Dr. W. S. Tangier Smith and Messrs. C. E. Sicbenthal and W. T. Lee have made observations in certain areas. Much valuable information respecting wells has been furnished by Mr. William Archer, of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, and Mr. C. H. McVay, well driller at Rocky Ford.

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Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Geology and underground waters of the Arkansas Valley in eastern Colorado
Series title:
Professional Paper
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Government Printing Office
90 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Arkansas Valley
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