Hydrology of area 46, Northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain coal provinces, North Dakota

Open-File Report 84-467




This report is one of a series that describes the hydrology of coal provinces nationwide. The Northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain Coal Provinces are divided into 20 separate reporting areas which are numbered 43 to 62. This report provides general hydrologic information for Area 46 using a brief text with accompanying maps, charts, or graphs. This information may be used to describe the hydrology of the general area of any existing or proposed mine. Some of the more obvious hydrologic problems of coal development that will need to be addressed before development are disruption of aquifers and potential contamination of streams, aquifers, and the atmosphere.

Area 46 is in northwestern North Dakota and is composed of parts or all of 14 hydrologic units based on surface-water drainage basins. The area is drained by the Missouri and Souris Rivers.

Lignite-bearing rocks of late Paleocene age underlie nearly all of Area 46. The thickest and most continuous lignite beds occur in the Sentinel Butte and Tongue River Members of the Fort Union Formation. Alluvial deposits and a veneer of glacial drift of late Pleistocene age overlie the lignite-bearing rocks.

The climate of the area is semiarid. Mean annual precipitation ranges from 13.9 to 17.8 inches. Mean annual temperatures range from 37.7°F at Bowbells to 40.9°F at Williston. Mean monthly temperatures at Williston range from 8.3°F to 70°F. The growing season is about 125 days.

A fairly comprehensive data base for streamflow and water quality in streams is available for Area 46. Many of the small-stream monitoring sites have been operated during the last few years to provide a data base before coal development. With the exception of the Missouri River, which is controlled by several dams, both the quantity and quality of water varies greatly in all streams.

A ground-water observation network for water levels and water quality has been established through county ground-water resource investigations and other ground-water studies and provides an adequate data base.

Three activities within the U.S. Geological Survey identify and provide access to hydrologic data. These are the National Water-Data Exchange (NAWDEX), the National Water-Data Storage and Retrieval System (WATSTORE), and the Office of Water-Data Coordination (OWDC).

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrology of area 46, Northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain coal provinces, North Dakota
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
North Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center
v, 80 p.