Ground-water resources of Sheridan County, Wyoming

Water Supply Paper 1807




Sheridan County is in the north-central part of Wyoming and is an area of about 2,500 square miles. The western part of the county is in the Bighorn Mountains, and the eastern part is in the Powder River structural basin. Principal streams are the Powder and Tongue Rivers, which are part of the Yellowstone River system. The climate is semiarid, and the mean annual precipitation at Sheridan is about 16 inches. Rocks of Precambrian age are exposed in the central part of the Bighorn Mountains, and successively younger rocks are exposed eastward. Rocks of Tertiary age, which are the most widespread, are exposed throughout a large part of the Powder River structural basin. Deposits of Quaternary age underlie the flood plains and terraces along the larger streams, particularly in the western part of the basin. Aquifers of pre-Tertiary age are exposed in the western part of the county, but they dip steeply and are deeply buried just a few miles east of their outcrop. Aquifers that might yield large supplies of water include the Bighorn Dolomite, Madison Limestone, Amsden Formation, and Tensleep Sandstone. The Flathead Sandstone, Sundance Formation, Morrison Formation, Cloverly Formation,. Newcastle Sandstone, Frontier Formation, Parkman Sandstone, Bearpaw Shale, .and Lance Formation may yield small or, under favorable conditions, moderate supplies of water. Few wells tap aquifers of pre-Tertiary age, and these are restricted to the outcrop area. The meager data available indicate that the water from the Lance Formation, Bearpaw Shale, Parkman Sandstone, Tensleep Sandstone and Amsden Formation, and Flathead Standstone is of suitable quality for domestic or stock purposes, and that water from the Tensleep Sandstone and Amsden Formation and the Flathead Sandstone is of good quality for irrigation. Samples could not be obtained from other aquifers of pre-Tertiary age; so the quality of water in these aquifers could not be determined. Adequate supplies of ground water for stock or domestic use can be developed throughout much of the report area from the Fort Union and Wasatch Formations of Tertiary age; larger supplies might be obtained from the coarse-grained sandstone facies of the Wasatch Formation near Moncreiffe Ridge. Four aquifer tests were made at wells tapping formations of Tertiary age, and the coefficients of permeability determined ranged from 2.5 to 7.9 gallons per day per square foot. The depths to which wells must be drilled to penetrate an aquifer differ within relatively short distances because of the lenticularity of the aquifers. Water in aquifers of Tertiary age may occur under water-table, artesian, or a combination of artesian and gas-lift conditions. Water from the Fort Union is usable for domestic purposes, but the iron and dissolved-solids content impair the quality at some localities. Water from the Fort Union Formation is not recommended for irrigation because of sodium and bicarbonate content. The water is regarded as good to fair for stock use. Water from the Wasatch Formation generally contains dissolved solids in excess of the suggested domestic standards, but this water is usable in the absence of other supplies. The development of irrigation supplies from the Wasatch Formation may be possible in some areas, but the water quality should be carefully checked. Water of good to very poor quality for stock supplies is obtained, depending upon the location. Hydrogen sulfide, commonly present in water of the Fort Union and Wasatch Formations, becomes an objectionable characteristic when the water is used for human consumption. Deposits of Quaternary age generally yield small to moderate supplies of water to wells. Two pumping tests were conducted, and the coefficients of permeability of the aquifers tested were 380 and 1,100 gallons per day per square foot. Usable supplies of ground water can be developed from the deposits of Quaternary age, principally along the valleys of perennial strea

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water resources of Sheridan County, Wyoming
Series title:
Water Supply Paper
Series number:
Year Published:
U. S. Govt. Print. Off.,
iv, 77 p. :illus., maps (1 fold. col. in pocket) ;24 cm.