The principal sources of ground-water supply in the upper Lodgepole Creek drainage basin-the part of the basin west of the Wyoming-Nebraska State line-are the Brule formation of Oligocene age, the Arikaree formation of Miocene age, the Ogallala formation of Pliocene age, and the unconsolidated deposits of Quaternary age.
The Brule formation is a moderately hard siltstone that generally is not a good aquifer. However, where it is fractured or where the upper part consists of pebbles of reworked siltstone, it will yield large quantities of water to wells. Many wells in the Pine Bluffs lowland, at the east end of the area, derive water from the Brule. The Arikaree formation, which consists of loosely to moderately cemented fine sand, will yield small quantities of water to wells but is not thick enough or permeable enough to supply sufficient water for irrigation. Only a few wells derive water from it. The Ogallala formation consists of lenticular beds of clay, silt, sand, and gravel which, in part, are cemented with calcium carbonate. Only the lower part of the formation is saturated. Nearly all the wells in the upland part of the area tap the Ogallala, but they supply water in amounts sufficient for domestic and stock use only. Two of the wells have a moderately large discharge, and other wells of comparable discharge probably could be drilled in those parts of the upland where the saturated part of the Ogallala is fairly thick. Most of the unconsolidated deposits of Quaternary age are very permeable and, where a sufficient thickness is saturated, will yield large quantities of water to wells. These deposits are a significant source of water supply in the southeastern part of the area.
The Chadron formation of Oligocene age, which underlies the Brule formation, is a medium- to coarse-grained sandstone where it crops out in the Islay lowland. No wells tap the Chadron, but it probably would yield small quantities of water to wells. It lies at a relatively shallow depth beneath most of the Islay lowland, near the west end of the area, and at a depth of about 800 feet beneath the Pine Bluffs lowland. In the latter area it probably is finer grained and may not be permeable enough to yield water to wells. All the ground water in the area is derived from precipitation. It is estimated that about 5 percent of the precipitation infiltrates directly to the zone of saturation. The remainder either is evaporated immediately; is retained by the soil, later to be evaporated or transpired; or is discharged by overland flow to the surface drainage courses. Most of the water that reaches the surface drainage courses eventually sinks to the zone of saturation or is evaporated. The slope of the water table and the movement of ground water are generally eastward. The depth to water ranges from less than 10 feet in parts of the valley to about 300 feet in the upland areas. In much of the Pine Bluffs lowland, the depth to water is less than 50 feet. Ground water not pumped from wells within the area is discharged by evapotranspiration where the water table is close to the land surface, by outflow into streams, or by underflow eastward beneath the State line.
The chemical quality of ground water from the principal sources is remarkably uniform, and the range in concentration of dissolved constituents is narrow. In general, the water is of the calcium bicarbonate type, is hard (hardness as CaC03 is as high as 246 ppm), and contains less than about 400 parts per million of dissolved solids, which is a moderate mineralization. Silica constitutes a large proportion of the dissolved solids.
The water is suitable for irrigation and, except for iron in water from some wells that tap the Ogallala formation, meets the drinking water standards of the U.S. Public Health Service for chemical constituents. Because the water is siliceous, alkaline, and hard, it is unsuitable for many industrial uses unless treated.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Geology and ground-water resources of the upper Lodgepole Creek drainage basin, Wyoming, with a section on chemical quality of the water
Water Supply Paper
U.S. Govt. Print. Off.,
iv, 40 p. :maps (2 fold. in pocket) diagr., tables. ;25 cm.