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Hydrogeologic characteristics and water levels of Wilcox aquifer in southwestern and northeastern Arkansas

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Abstract

The Wilcox Group of Eocene and Paleocene age is located throughout most of southern and eastern Arkansas. The Wilcox Group in southern Arkansas is undifferentiated, while in northeastern Arkansas, the Wilcox Group is subdivided into three units: Flour Island, Fort Pillow Sand, and Old Breastworks Formation. The Wilcox Group crops out in southwestern Arkansas in discontinuous, 1 to 3 mi wide bands. In northeastern Arkansas, the Wilcox Group crops out along a narrow, discontinuous, band along the western edge of Crowleys Ridge.

The Wilcox aquifer provides sources of groundwater in southwestern and northeastern Arkansas. In 2005, reported withdrawals from the Wilcox aquifer in Arkansas totaled 27.0 million gallons per day, most of which came from the northeastern area. Major withdrawals from the aquifer were for public supplies with lesser but locally important withdrawals for commercial, domestic, and industrial uses.

A study was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and the Arkansas Geological Survey to determine the water levels associated with the Wilcox aquifer in southwestern and northeastern Arkansas. During February 2009, 58 water-level measurements were made in wells completed in the Wilcox aquifer. The results from this study and previous studies are presented as potentiometric-surface maps, water-level difference maps, and long-term hydrographs.

The direction of groundwater flow in the southwestern area is affected by two potentiometric-surface mounds, one in the north and the other in the southwest, and a cone of depression in the center. The direction of water flowing off of the northern mound of water is generally to the south and east with some to the north. The direction of water flowing off of the southwestern mound is generally to the south and east. The direction of water flowing into the cone of depression is generally from the north, west, and south. The direction of groundwater flow in the northeastern area is generally to the south and southeast, except in the northwestern part of the area where the flow is in a westerly direction towards Paragould. Large groundwater withdrawals have altered the natural direction of flow near centers of pumping at Paragould and West Memphis.

Water-level difference maps for the Wilcox aquifer in Arkansas were constructed using the differences between water-level measurements made during 2003 and 2009 from 52 wells. The difference in water levels between 2003 and 2009 in the southwestern area ranged from -36.4 to 16.0 ft. Water levels rose in the northern parts of the southwestern area, while the water levels in the southern part of the area declined with the exception of one well. The differences in water levels between 2003 and 2009 in the northeastern area ranged from -21.7 to 1.3 ft. Water levels declined throughout the northeastern area with the exception of two wells.

Hydrographs from 42 wells with a minimum of 20 yr of water-level measurements were constructed. Trend lines using linear regression were calculated for the period from 1990 to 2009 to determine the slope in ft/yr for water levels in each well. In the southwestern area, the county mean annual water level rose 0.15 ft/yr in Hot Spring County. County mean annual water levels declined between 0.71 ft/yr and 0.03 ft/yr in Clark, Hempstead, and Nevada counties. In the northeastern area, the county mean annual water level rose 0.46 ft/yr in Greene County. County mean annual water levels declined between 0.03 ft/yr and 2.12 ft/yr in Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Lee, Mississippi, Poinsett, and St. Francis counties.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Hydrogeologic characteristics and water levels of Wilcox aquifer in southwestern and northeastern Arkansas
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher The Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies
Contributing office(s) Arkansas Water Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 621
Last page 636
Conference Title GCAGS 59th Annual Meeting
Conference Location Shreveport, LA
Conference Date September 27-29, 2009
Country United States
State Arkansas
Other Geospatial Wilcox aquifer