Measurements of aquifer-storage change and specific yield using gravity surveys

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Pinal Creek is an intermittent stream that drains a 200-square-mile alluvial basin in central Arizona. Large changes in water levels and aquifer storage occur in an alluvial aquifer near the stream in response to periodic recharge and ground-water withdrawals. Outflow components of the ground-water budget and hydraulic properties of the alluvium are well-defined by field measurements; however, data are insufficient to adequately describe recharge, aquifer-storage change, and specific-yield values. An investigation was begun to assess the utility of temporal-gravity surveys to directly measure aquifer-storage change and estimate values of specific yield.

The temporal-gravity surveys measured changes in the differences in gravity between two reference stations on bedrock and six stations at wells; changes are caused by variations in aquifer storage. Specific yield was estimated by dividing storage change by water-level change. Four surveys were done between February 21, 1991, and March 31, 1993. Gravity increased as much as 158 microGal ± 1 to 6 microGal, and water levels rose as much as 58 feet. Average specific yield at wells ranged from 0.16 to 0.21, and variations in specific yield with depth correlate with lithologic variations. Results indicate that temporal-gravity surveys can be used to estimate aquifer-storage change and specific yield of water-table aquifers where significant variations in water levels occur. Direct measurement of aquifer-storage change can eliminate a major unknown from the ground-water budget of arid basins and improve residual estimates of recharge.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Measurements of aquifer-storage change and specific yield using gravity surveys
Series title Groundwater
DOI 10.1111/j.1745-6584.1995.tb00299.x
Volume 33
Issue 3
Year Published 1995
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 8 p.
First page 425
Last page 432
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