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Water-level altitudes 2016 and water-level changes in the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers and compaction 1973–2015 in the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers, Houston-Galveston region, Texas

Scientific Investigations Map 3365

Prepared in cooperation with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, City of Houston, Fort Bend Subsidence District, Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, and Brazoria County Groundwater Conservation District
By:
ORCID iD , ORCID iD , and ORCID iD
https://doi.org/10.3133/sim3365

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Abstract

Most of the land-surface subsidence in the Houston-Galveston region, Texas, has occurred as a direct result of groundwater withdrawals for municipal supply, commercial and industrial use, and irrigation that depressured and dewatered the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers, thereby causing compaction of the aquifer sediments, mostly in the fine-grained silt and clay layers. This report, prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, City of Houston, Fort Bend Subsidence District, Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, and Brazoria County Groundwater Conservation District, is one in an annual series of reports depicting water-level altitudes and water-level changes in the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers and measured cumulative compaction of subsurface sediments in the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers in the Houston-Galveston region. The report contains regional-scale maps depicting approximate 2016 water-level altitudes (represented by measurements made during December 2015–March 2016) for the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers; maps depicting 1-year (2015–16) water-level changes for each aquifer; maps depicting approximate contoured 5-year (2011–16) water-level changes for each aquifer; maps depicting approximate contoured long-term (1990–2016 and 1977–2016) water-level changes for the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers; a map depicting approximate contoured long-term (2000–16) water-level changes for the Jasper aquifer; a map depicting locations of borehole-extensometer sites; and graphs depicting measured long-term cumulative compaction of subsurface sediments at the extensometers during 1973–2015. Tables listing the water-level data used to construct each water-level map for each aquifer and the measured long-term cumulative compaction data for each extensometer site are included. Graphs depicting water-level measurement data also are included; these graphs can be used to approximate changes in effective stress caused by changes in groundwater withdrawal from the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers.

In 2016, water-level-altitude contours for the Chicot aquifer ranged from 200 feet (ft) below the vertical datum (North American Vertical Datum of 1988; hereinafter, datum) in a localized area in northwestern Harris County to 200 ft above datum in west-central Montgomery County. Water-level changes during 2015–16 in the Chicot aquifer ranged from a 39-ft decline to a 26-ft rise. Contoured 5-year and long-term changes in water-level altitudes of the Chicot aquifer ranged from a 30-ft decline to a 20-ft rise (2011–16), from a 140-ft decline to a 160-ft rise (1990–2016), and from a 120-ft decline to a 200-ft rise (1977–2016). In 2016, water-level-altitude contours for the Evangeline aquifer ranged from 250 ft below datum in three separate areas in south-central Montgomery County and extending into north-central Harris County, in west-central Harris County, and in southwestern Harris County to 200 ft above datum in southeastern Grimes and northwestern Montgomery Counties. Water-level changes during 2015–16 in the Evangeline aquifer ranged from a 65-ft decline to a 61-ft rise. Contoured 5-year and long-term changes in water-level altitudes of the Evangeline aquifer ranged from a 60-ft decline to a 40-ft rise (2011–16), from a 160-ft decline to a 160-ft rise (1990–2016), and from a 320-ft decline to a 240-ft rise (1977–2016). In 2016, water-level-altitude contours for the Jasper aquifer ranged from 200 ft below datum in south-central Montgomery County extending into north-central Harris County to 250 ft above datum in northwestern Montgomery County and extending into eastern Grimes County and southwestern Walker County. Water-level changes during 2015–16 in the Jasper aquifer ranged from a 38-ft decline to a 51-ft rise. Contoured 5-year and long-term changes in water-level altitudes of the Jasper aquifer ranged from a 60-ft decline to a 40-ft rise (2011–16) and from a 220-ft decline to a 20-ft decline (2000–16).

Compaction of subsurface sediments (mostly in the fine-grained silt and clay layers) in the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers was recorded continuously by using 13 extensometers at 11 sites that were either activated or installed between 1973 and 1980. During the period of record beginning in 1973 (or later depending on activation or installation date) and ending in December 2015, measured cumulative compaction at the 13 extensometers ranged from 0.095 ft at the Texas City-Moses Lake extensometer to 3.666 ft at the Addicks extensometer. From January through December 2015, the Northeast, Southwest, Addicks, Johnson Space Center, and Clear Lake (deep) extensometers recorded net decreases in land-surface elevation, but the Lake Houston, East End, Texas City-Moses Lake, Baytown C–1 (shallow), Baytown C–2 (deep), Seabrook, Clear Lake (shallow), and Pasadena extensometers recorded net increases in land-surface elevation. For the 11 extensometer sites during the selected years 1988, 1998, 2008, 2012, and 2015, the smallest effective stress (20.12 pounds per square inch [psi]) was estimated at the Texas City-Moses Lake extensometer site and was produced by a measured water level of 46.42 ft below land-surface datum (blsd) in January 2008. The corresponding net compaction during 2007 at this site was 0.001 ft. The largest effective stress (174.86 psi) was estimated at the Addicks extensometer site and was produced by a measured water level of 403.38 ft blsd in January 1998. The corresponding net compaction at the Addicks site was 0.067 ft in 1997.

The 2011 drought caused water-level declines in the aquifers that were documented by the water-level-measurement data collected in January 2012. During the 2011 drought, the 13 extensometers recorded varying amounts of compaction that ranged from a net compaction value of 0.002 ft recorded by the Texas City-Moses Lake extensometer to a net compaction value of 0.192 ft recorded by the Pasadena extensometer. Water-level data for 1988, 1998, 2008, 2012, and 2015 and the corresponding net compaction values recorded by the extensometers for 1987, 1997, 2007, 2011, and 2014 were used to illustrate the cause and effect relations between changes in water level caused by groundwater withdrawals and resulting changes in effective stress. Changes in effective stress are related to changes in land-surface elevations caused by compaction of the fine-grained sediments composing the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers.

The rate of compaction varies from site to site because of differences in rates of groundwater withdrawal in the areas adjacent to each extensometer site; differences among sites in the ratios of sand, silt, and clay and their corresponding compressibilities; and previously established preconsolidation heads. It is not appropriate, therefore, to extrapolate or infer a rate of compaction for an adjacent area on the basis of the rate of compaction recorded by proximal extensometers.

Suggested Citation

Kasmarek, M.C., Ramage, J.K., and Johnson, M.R., 2016, Water-level altitudes 2016 and water-level changes in the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers and compaction 1973–2015 in the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers, Houston-Galveston region, Texas: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3365, pamphlet, 16 sheets, scale 1:100,000, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sim3365.

ISSN: 2329-132X (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Data Collection and Analysis Methods
  • Water-Level Altitudes and Changes
  • Compaction of Subsurface Sediments in the Chicot and Evangeline Aquifers
  • Changes in Effective Stress Caused by Groundwater Withdrawals from the Chicot and Evangeline Aquifers
  • Data Limitations
  • Summary
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Water-level altitudes 2016 and water-level changes in the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers and compaction 1973–2015 in the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers, Houston-Galveston region, Texas
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Map
Series number:
3365
DOI:
10.3133/sim3365
Year Published:
2016
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Texas Water Science Center
Description:
Report: ix, 39 p.; 16 Sheets: 21.99 x 22.00 inches or smaller; Tables 1-5; Appendix 1; Datasets; Read Me
Country:
United States
State:
Texas
City:
Galveston, Houston
Other Geospatial:
Chicot Aquifer, Evangeline Aquifer, Jasper Aquifer
Online Only (Y/N):
Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
Y