Changes in ground-water levels in the Carlin Trend area, north-central Nevada, 1989-2003

Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5075




Ground-water pumpage in support of gold mining activities, including mine dewatering, has resulted in water-level declines and rises in different parts of the Carlin Trend area in north-central Nevada. Total annual pumpage at the Gold Quarry, Carlin, Genesis, and Betze Mines has ranged from about 5,000 acre-feet in 1989 to almost 130,000 acre-feet in 1994 and 1998. Excess water from the mines is stored in the TS Ranch and Maggie Creek Reservoirs. Aquifers in the Carlin Trend area are comprised of carbonate rocks of Cambrian to Permian age and basin-fill deposits and interbedded volcanic rocks of Tertiary and Quaternary age. Since 1992, water levels in carbonate-rock aquifers near the Gold Quarry Mine have declined as much as 680 feet below an elongate area 12 miles long and 6 miles wide northwest and southeast from the mine. Since 1990, water levels have declined by more than 1,600 feet in the deepest part of the cone of depression at the Betze Mine. The area encompassed by the main part of the cone, which is 7 miles long by 4 miles wide, did not change much during 1993-2003, although its depth had doubled. Near both mines, the cones of depression are bounded by faults acting as barriers to ground-water flow. Water levels in the volcanic rocks of northern Boulder Flat began to rise soon after the TS Ranch Reservoir began filling in 1990 because of infiltration. Since 1990, the net water-level rise around the reservoir has been 50 feet or more over an area of about 2 square miles, and 20 feet or more over an area of about 60 square miles. Since 1992, water levels in basin-fill deposits in Boulder Flat have risen 5 feet or more over an estimated area of 20 square miles as a result of (1) use of water from the Betze Mine as a substitute for irrigation pumpage, (2) water from the TS Ranch Reservoir infiltrating volcanic rocks and then flowing southward into adjacent basin-fill deposits, (3) secondary recharge of water from the mine for irrigating about 10,000 acres, and (4) discharge from three new springs in northeastern Boulder Flat. Water-level declines in carbonate rocks near the Gold Quarry Mine have not affected water levels in overlying basin-fill deposits. Declines were no more than a few feet north and west of the mine because older basin-fill deposits at the base of the Carlin Formation consist of fine-grained poorly permeable sediments. Water levels rose 5 feet to more than 20 feet over an area of 6-7 square miles around the Maggie Creek Reservoir in response to infiltration. A few miles farther south, water levels rose as much as 5 feet over an area of 3 square miles as a combined result of the infiltration of irrigation water and flow of Maggie Creek into permeable volcanic rocks in the stream channel. An area of 1,900 acres about 10 miles north of Battle Mountain in the Clovers Area has been pumped for irrigation since the early 1970's. Since 1989, water levels have declined 5-15 feet over an area of 15 square miles.

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Changes in ground-water levels in the Carlin Trend area, north-central Nevada, 1989-2003
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Scientific Investigations Report
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iv, 14 p. : ill., col. maps ; 28 cm.; one map on 1 folded leaf in pocket