Smoke Creek Desert is a potential source of water for urban development in Washoe County, Nevada. Hydrogeologic data were collected from 1988 to 1990 to learn more about surface- and ground-water flow in the basin. Impermeable rocks form a boundary to ground-water flow on the east side of the basin and at unknown depths at the base of the flow system. Permeable volcanic rocks on the west and north sides of the basin represent a previously unrecognized aquifer and provide potential avenues for interbasin flow. Geophysical data indicate that basin-fill sediments are about 2,000 feet thick near the center of the basin. The geometry of the aquifers, however, remains largely unknown. Measurements of water levels, pressure head, flow rate, water temperature, and specific conductance at 19 wells show little change from 1988 to 1990. Chemically, ground water begins as a dilute sodium and calcium bicarbonate water in the mountain blocks, changes to a slightly saline sodium bicarbonate solution beneath the alluvial fans, and becomes a briny sodium chloride water near the playa. Concentrations of several inorganic constituents in the briny water near the playa commonly exceed Nevada drinking-water standards. Ground water in the Honey Lake basin and Smoke Creek Desert basin has similar stable-isotope composition, except near Sand Pass. If interbasin flow takes place, it likely occurs at depths greater than 400-600 feet beneath Sand Pass or through volcanic rocks to the north of Sand Pass. Measure- ments of streamflow indicate that about 2,800 acre-feet/year discharged from volcanic rocks to streamflow and a minimum of 7.300 acre-feet/year infiltrated and recharged unconsolidated sediments near Smoke, Buffalo, and Squaw Creeks during the period of study. Also about 1,500 acre-feet per year was lost to evapotranspiration along the channel of Smoke Creek, and about 1,680 acre-feet per year of runoff from Smoke, Buffalo, and Squaw Creeks was probably lost to evaporation from the playa.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrogeologic setting and hydrologic data of the Smoke Creek Desert basin, Washoe County, Nevada, and Lassen County, California, water years 1988-90
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Geological Survey ;
Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],