The Madison and Minnelusa aquifers are used extensively for water supplies for the city of Spearfish and other users in northern Lawrence County, South Dakota. Ground water in the Madison and Minnelusa aquifers in the study area generally flows north from outcrop areas where recharge from sinking streams and infiltration of precipitation occurs. Ground water that moves northward and eastward around the Black Hills enters the study area from the west and results in hydraulic heads that are several hundred feet higher on the western side of the study area than on the eastern side. The estimated average recharge rate of 38 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) on outcrops of the Madison Limestone and Minnelusa Formation is less than the total estimated average spring discharge rate of 51 ft3/s in the northwestern part of the study area.
Sixteen pounds of fluorescein dye were injected into Spearfish Creek on March 25, 2003, when streamflow was 6.6 ft3/s. The dye was detected in water samples from four wells completed in the Madison aquifer ranging from 2.6 to 4.5 miles north of the injection site. First arrival times ranged from 5 to 169 days, and ground-water velocities ranged from about 0.1 to 0.5 mile per day. Sixty-four pounds of Rhodamine WT was injected into Spearfish Creek at the same location on May 9, 2003, when streamflow was 5.6 ft3/s. Rhodamine WT dye concentrations measured in samples from the same four wells were about an order of magnitude less than measured fluorescein concentrations.
Oxygen- and deuterium-isotope values for samples from Cox Lake and McNenny Pond springs indicated a probable component of spring discharge that originates from outcrops of the Madison Limestone and Minnelusa Formation on the Limestone Plateau south of the study area. Oxygen- and deuterium-isotope values for samples from Mirror Lake spring indicated possible contributions from overlying aquifers and local recharge. Oxygen- and deuterium-isotope values for the combined springflow contributing to Crow Creek in the northwestern part of the study area indicated that the primary source of water is the Madison and Minnelusa aquifers. Oxygen- and deuterium-isotope values for Old Hatchery and Higgins Gulch springs, located north of Spearfish, indicated a source water originating from the outcrops of the Madison Limestone and Minnelusa Formation within the study area.
Concentrations of three chlorofluorocarbons (CFC-11, CFC-12, and CFC-113) were used to characterize ground-water residence times in the study area. For the four wells where dye was detected, CFC-11 apparent ages ranged from 12 to 26 years, indicating that the wells contained months-old water mixed with years- to decades-old water. Logarithmic regression analysis of the CFC-11 apparent ages for water from 10 wells and distance to a possible conduit trending north through the area where dye was detected, yielded an r2 value of 0.71. Straight-line regression analysis of the CFC-11 apparent ages for the six wells closest to the possible conduit had an r2 value of 0.96. Two wells located relatively close to the outcrop areas had no or very low tritium values indicating relatively long residence times and diffuse ground-water flow. The tritium value of 7.2 TU in water from well COL where dye was detected, indicated that the water probably is a bimodal mixture, with a substantial portion that is older than 50 years. Water from well ELL, where dye was detected, had a tritium value of 19.7 TU and a CFC apparent age of 15 years, indicating that the sample from this well probably is a unimodal mixture with very little water older than 50 years. Comparison of the CFC apparent age for three spring sites (Cox Lake, 26 years; McNenny Pond, 26 years; Mirror Lake, 13 years) also indicated that Mirror Lake spring probably has a component of local recharge from formations that overlie the Minnelusa Formation.
In the Madison aquifer, specific conductance ranges from 18 to 945 microsiemens per cen
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Characterization of ground-water flow and water quality for the Madison and Minnelusa aquifers in northern Lawrence County, South Dakota
Scientific Investigations Report
U.S. Geological Survey
South Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center