Geology, hydrology, and water quality of the Tracy-Dos Palos area, San Joaquin Valley, California

Open-File Report 72-169




The Tracy-Dos Palos area includes about 1,800 square miles on the northwest side of the San Joaquin Valley. The Tulare Formation of Pliocene and Pleistocene age, terrace deposits of Pleistocene age, and alluvium and flood-basin deposits of Pleistocene and Holocene age constitute the fresh ground-water reservoir Pre-Tertiary and Tertiary sedimentary and crystalline rocks, undifferentiated, underlie the valley and yield saline water.

Hydrologically most important, the Tulare Formation is divided into a lower water-bearing zone confined by the Corcoran Clay Member and an upper zone that is confined, semiconfined, and unconfined in different parts of the area. Alluvium and flood-basin deposits are included in the upper zone. Surficial alluvium and flood-basin deposits contain a shallow water-bearing zone. Lower zone wells were flowing in 1908, but subsequent irrigation development caused head declines and land subsidence. Overdraft in both zones ended in 1951 with import of surface water.

Bicarbonate water flows into the area from the Sierra Nevada and Diablo Range. Diablo Range water is higher in sulfate, chloride, and dissolved solids. Upper zone water averages between 400 and 1,200 mg/l (milligrams per liter) dissolved solids and water hardness generally exceeds 180 mg/l as calcium carbonate. Nitrate, fluoride, iron, and boron occur in excessive concentrations in water from some wells. Dissolved constituents in lower zone water generally are sodium chloride and sodium sulfate with higher dissolved solids concentration than water from the upper zone.

The foothills of the Diablo Range provide favorable conditions for artificial recharge, but shallow water problems plague about 50 percent of the area and artificial recharge is undesirable at this time.

Additional publication details

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USGS Numbered Series
Geology, hydrology, and water quality of the Tracy-Dos Palos area, San Joaquin Valley, California
Series title:
Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey
Report: viii, 107 p.; 3 Plates: 33.24 x 31.14 inches or smaller