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Hydrogeology and simulation of ground-water flow and land-surface subsidence in the northern part of the Gulf Coast aquifer system, Texas

Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5102

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Abstract

As a part of the Texas Water Development Board Ground- Water Availability Modeling program, the U.S. Geological Survey developed and tested a numerical finite-difference (MODFLOW) model to simulate ground-water flow and land-surface subsidence in the northern part of the Gulf Coast aquifer system in Texas from predevelopment (before 1891) through 2000. The model is intended to be a tool that water-resource managers can use to address future ground-water-availability issues. From land surface downward, the Chicot aquifer, the Evangeline aquifer, the Burkeville confining unit, the Jasper aquifer, and the Catahoula confining unit are the hydrogeologic units of the Gulf Coast aquifer system. Withdrawals of large quantities of ground water have resulted in potentiometric surface (head) declines in the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers and land-surface subsidence (primarily in the Houston area) from depressurization and compaction of clay layers interbedded in the aquifer sediments. In a generalized conceptual model of the aquifer system, water enters the ground-waterflow system in topographically high outcrops of the hydrogeologic units in the northwestern part of the approximately 25,000-square-mile model area. Water that does not discharge to streams flows to intermediate and deep zones of the system southeastward of the outcrop areas where it is discharged by wells and by upward leakage in topographically low areas near the coast. The uppermost parts of the aquifer system, which include outcrop areas, are under water-table conditions. As depth increases in the aquifer system and as interbedded sand and clay accumulate, water-table conditions evolve into confined conditions. The model comprises four layers, one for each of the hydrogeologic units of the aquifer system except the Catahoula confining unit, the assumed no-flow base of the system. Each layer consists of 137 rows and 245 columns of uniformly spaced grid blocks, each block representing 1 square mile. Lateral no-flow boundaries were located on the basis of outcrop extent (northwestern), major streams (southwestern, northeastern), and downdip limit of freshwater (southeastern). The MODFLOW general-head boundary package was used to simulate recharge and discharge in the outcrops of the hydrogeologic units. Simulation of land-surface subsidence (actually, compaction of clays) and release of water from storage in the clays of the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers was accomplished using the Interbed-Storage Package designed for use with the MODFLOW model. The model was calibrated by trial-anderror adjustment of selected model input data in a series of transient simulations until the model output (potentiometric surfaces, land-surface subsidence, and selected water-budget components) reasonably reproduced field measured (or estimated) aquifer responses. Model calibration comprised four elements: The first was qualitative comparison of simulated and measured heads in the aquifers for 1977 and 2000; and quantitative comparison by computation and areal distribution of the root-mean-square error between simulated and measured heads. The second calibration element was comparison of simulated and measured hydrographs from wells in the aquifers in a number of counties throughout the modeled area. The third calibration element was comparison of simulated water-budget componentsprimarily recharge and dischargeto estimates of physically reasonable ranges of actual water-budget components. The fourth calibration element was comparison of simulated land-surface subsidence from predevelopment to 2000 to measured land surface subsidence from 1906 through 1995. The simulated potentiometric surfaces of the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers for 1977 and 2000 show general agreement with measured potentiometric surfaces (or with measured point head data in areas where data are sparse). The root-mean-square errors for the aquifer potentiometric surfaces for 1977 were about 34 feet for

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Hydrogeology and simulation of ground-water flow and land-surface subsidence in the northern part of the Gulf Coast aquifer system, Texas
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2004-5102
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2004
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
111 p.