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Land Subsidence and Aquifer-System Compaction in the Tucson Active Management Area, South-Central Arizona, 1987-2005

Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5190

Prepared in cooperation with the Arizona Department of Water Resources, City of Tucson Water Department, Pima County, the Town of Oro Valley, the Town of Marana, and the Metropolitan Domestic Water Improvement District
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Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey monitors land subsidence and aquifer-system compaction caused by ground-water depletion in Tucson Basin and Avra Valley - two of the three alluvial basins within the Tucson Active Management Area. In spring 1987, the Global Positioning System was used to measure horizontal and vertical positions for bench marks at 43 sites to establish a network for monitoring land subsidence in Tucson Basin and Avra Valley. Between 1987 and 2005, the original number of subsidence monitoring stations was gradually increased to more than 100 stations to meet the need for information in the growing metropolitan area. Data from approximately 60 stations common to the Global Positioning System surveys done after an initial survey in 1987 are used to document land subsidence. For the periods of comparison, average land-surface deformation generally is less than the maximum subsidence at an individual station and takes into account land-surface recovery from elastic aquifer-system compaction. Between 1987 and 1998, as much as 3.2 inches of subsidence occurred in Tucson Basin and as much as 4 inches of subsidence occurred in Avra Valley. For the 31 stations that are common to both the 1987 and 1998 Global Positioning System surveys, the average subsidence during the 11-year period was about 0.5 inch in Tucson Basin and about 1.2 inches in Avra Valley. For the approximately 60 stations that are common to both the 1998 and 2002 Global Positioning System surveys, the data indicate that as much as 3.5 inches of subsidence occurred in Tucson Basin and as much as 1.1 inches of subsidence occurred in Avra Valley. The average subsidence for the 4-year period is about 0.4 inch in Tucson Basin and 0.6 inch in Avra Valley. Between the 2002 and the 2005 Global Positioning System surveys, the data indicate that as much as 0.2 inch of subsidence occurred in Tucson Basin and as much as 2.2 inches of subsidence occurred in Avra Valley. The average subsidence for the 3-year period is about 0.7 inch in Avra Valley. Between 1987 and 2004-05, land subsidence was greater in Avra Valley than in Tucson Basin on the basis of the average cumulative subsidence for the stations that were common to the original Global Positioning System survey in 1987. The average total subsidence during the 17- to 18-year period was about 1.3 inches in Tucson Basin and about 2.8 inches in Avra Valley. Three stations in Tucson Basin showed subsidence greater than 4 inches for the period - 5 inches at stations C45 and X419 and 4.1 inches at station PA4. In Avra Valley, two stations showed subsidence for the 17- to 18-year period greater than 4 inches - 4.3 inches at station AV25 and 4.8 inches at station SA105. In 1983, fourteen wells were fitted with borehole extensometers to monitor water-level fluctuations and aquifer-system compaction. Continuous records of water level and aquifer-system compaction indicate that as much as 45 feet of water-level decline and 4 inches of aquifer-system compaction occurred in Tucson Basin from January 1989 through December, 2005. In Avra Valley, extensometer data indicate that as much as 55 feet of water-level decline and 1.7 inches of aquifer-system compaction occurred during the same time period. Rates of compaction vary throughout the extensometer network, with the greater rates of compaction being associated with areas of greater water-level decline and more compressible sediments. In Avra Valley, data from the Global Positioning System surveys indicate that more than half of the total subsidence of the land surface may be the result of aquifer-system compaction below the portion of the aquifer instrumented with the vertical extensometers. For the area in the northern part of Tucson Basin between the Rillito and Santa Cruz rivers, an Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar interferogram indicates that about 1.65 inches of subsidence occurred between 2003 and 2006. Between 2002 and 2004, the Global Positioning System

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Land Subsidence and Aquifer-System Compaction in the Tucson Active Management Area, South-Central Arizona, 1987-2005
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2007-5190
Edition:
Version 1.0
Year Published:
2007
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
Geological Survey (U.S.)
Contributing office(s):
Arizona Water Science Center
Description:
iv, 27 p.