The Tualatin Valley proper consists of broad valley plains, ranging in altitude from 100 to 300 feet, and the lower mountain slopes of the drainage basin of the Tualatin River, a tributary of the Willamette River in northwestern Oregon. The valley is almost entirely farmed. Its population is increasing rapidly, partly because of the expansion of metropolitan Portland.
Structurally, the bedrock of the basin is a saucer-shaped syncline almost bisected lengthwise by a ridge. The bedrock basin has been partly filled by alluvium, which underlies the valley plains.
Ground water occurs in the Columbia River basalt, a lava unit that forms the top several hundred feet of the bedrock, and also in the zones of fine sand in the upper part of the alluvial fill. It occurs under unconfined, confined, and perched conditions. Graphs of the observed water levels in wells show that the ground water is replenished each year by precipitation. The graphs show also that the amount and time of recharge vary in different aquifers and for different modes of ground-water occurrence. The shallower alluvial aquifers are refilled each year to a level where further infiltration recharge is retarded and water drains away as surface runoff. No occurrences of undue depletion of the ground water by pumping are known. The facts indicate that there is a great quantity of additional water available for future development. The ground water is developed for use by some spring works and by thousands of wells, most of which are of small yield. Improvements are now being made in the design of the wells in basalt and in the use of sand or gravel envelopes for wells penetrating the fine-sand aquifers.
The ground water in the basalt and the valley fill is in general of good quality, only slightly or moderately hard and of low salinity. Saline and mineralized water is present in the rocks of Tertiary age below the Columbia River basalt. Under certain structural and stratigraphic conditions this water of poor quality contaminates the fresh-water aquifers.
Detailed hydrologic and geologic conditions are presented in 5 tables, 7 pictures, and 17 graphic figures and plates.
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USGS Numbered Series
Geology and ground water of the Tualatin Valley, Oregon