The Edwards limestone of Early Cretaceous age is the chief aquifer for San Marcos Springs and about 160 other springs and wells in Hays County, along the Balcones fault zone in South-central Texas.
. Hays County is underlain by a basement of Paleozoic rocks; and in the southeastern part of the county the Hosston and Sligo formations of Early Cretaceous age, correlative with the Coahuila series of Mexico, have been encountered in the subsurface. Rocks exposed in the county are principally Cretaceous and Quaternary sedimentary units, which are assigned to the Trinity, Fredericksburg, and Washita groups in the Comanche series: the Eagle Ford shale, Austin chalk, Taylor marl, and Navarro group in the Gulf series: and the Leona formation and equivalent rocks in the Pleistocene series. Recent alluvium and colluvium locally overlie the older rocks.
In addition to the Edwards limestone in the Fredericksburg group, waterbearing rock units in Hays County include the Pearsall formation (Travis Peak of outcrop areas) and the Glen Rose limestone in the Trinity group, the Austin chalk and Taylor marl, and the Quaternary rocks.
The surface slope and regional dip are toward the southeast. Several normal strike faults have displaced the Cretaceous rocks downward to the southeast, the aggregate displacement being about 1,700 feet within the county. The boundaries of the Edwards limestone ground-water reservoir are formed by major faults which are the major controls of movement of water.
Much of the water discharged at San Marcos Springs is derived from influent seepage from streams and infiltration from precipitation in recharge areas southwest of Hays County. The average underground inflow from Comal County through the Edwards limestone reservoir is estimated as 70,000 acre-feet per year for the period 1934-47. The discharge of San Marcos Springs, averaging about 55 million gallons a day during 1955, greatly exceeds local ground-water recharge within Hays County.
Depth to water, direction of movement of water, subsurface location of aquifers, and quality of water in Hays County have been determined from records of 519 wells and springs, drillers' logs of 49 wells, periodic water-level measurements in about 70 wells, and chemical analyses of water samples from 238 wells and springs.
Ground water from wells in the Pearsall formation generally contains less than 500 parts per million of dissolved solids. Water from the Glen Rose limestone in some places contains more than 500 parts per million of sulfate and more than 1,000 parts per million of dissolved solids; locally it is high in nitrate also. Except in the southeastern part of the county, water from the Edwards limestone is commonly very hard but is otherwise of good quality for most uses. Analyses of two water samples from the Austin chalk indicate a high content of bicarbonate. Water from the Taylor marl and from Quaternary sediments generally is hard, and locally it contains excessive nitrate.
Most wells in Hays County are used for domestic and stock supplies.. About 20 wells, most of them in the Edwards limestone. yield water in relatively large amounts for industrial use, irrigation, or public supplies.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Geology and ground-water resources of Hays County, Texas