Most of the ground water of economic importance and nearly all the ground water closely associated with the flow o# the Humboldt River in the. 40-mile reach near Winnemucca, Nev., are in unconsolidated sedimentary deposits. These deposits range in age from Pliocene to Recent and range in character from coarse poorly sorted fanglomerate to lacustrine strata of clay, silt, sand, and gravel. The most permeable deposit consists of sand and gravel of Lake Lahontan age--the so-called medial gravel unit--which is underlain and overlain by fairly impermeable silt and clay also of Lake Lahontan age.
The ultimate source of nearly all the water in the study area is precpitation within the drainage basin of the Humboldt River. Much of this water reaches the study, area as flow or underflow of the Humboldt River and as underflow from other valleys tributary to the study area. Little if any flow from the tributary streams in the study area usually reaches the Humboldt River. Most of the tributary streamflow within the study area evaporates or is transpired by vegetation, but a part percolates downward through unconsolidated deposits of the alluvial fans flanking the mountains and move downgradient as ground-water underflow toward the Humboldt River.
Areas that contribute significant amounts of ground-water underflow to. the valley of the Humboldt River within the study area are (1) the valley of the Humboldt River upstream from the study area, (2) the Pole Creek-Rock Creek area, (3) Paradise Valley, and (4) Grass Valley and the northwestern slope of the Sonoma Range. The total average underflow from these areas in the period 1949-61 was about 14,000-19,000 acre-feet per year. Much of this underflow discharged into the Humboldt River within the study area and constituted a large part of the base flow of the river.
Streamflow in the Humboldt River increases substantially in the early spring, principally because of runoff to the river in the reaches upstream from the study area. The resulting increase of the stage of the river causes the river to lose large amounts of water by infiltration to the ground-water reservoir in the study area. In addition, there is much recharge to the ground-water reservoir in the spring and early summer as a result of seepage losses from irrigation ditches and the downward percolation of some of the excess water applied for irrigation. The average net increase of ground water in storage in the deposits beneath and adjacent to the flood plain of the Humboldt River during the spring and early summer is about 10,000 acre-feet.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Preliminary results of hydrogeologic investigations Humboldt River Valley, Winnemucca, Nevada
Water Supply Paper
U. S. Govt. Print. Off.,
v, 59 p. :and portfolio (4 fold. maps (3 col.)) ;illus., diagrs., tables.24 cm.