Conceptual model of the Great Basin carbonate and alluvial aquifer system

Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5193

Groundwater Resources Program
Edited by:
Victor M. Heilweil and Lynette E. Brooks



A conceptual model of the Great Basin carbonate and alluvial aquifer system (GBCAAS) was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for a regional assessment of groundwater availability as part of a national water census. The study area is an expansion of a previous USGS Regional Aquifer Systems Analysis (RASA) study conducted during the 1980s and 1990s of the carbonate-rock province of the Great Basin. The geographic extent of the study area is 110,000 mi2, predominantly in eastern Nevada and western Utah, and includes 165 hydrographic areas (HAs) and 17 regional groundwater flow systems.

A three-dimensional hydrogeologic framework was constructed that defines the physical geometry and rock types through which groundwater moves. The diverse sedimentary units of the GBCAAS study area are grouped into hydrogeologic units (HGUs) that are inferred to have reasonably distinct hydrologic properties due to their physical characteristics. These HGUs are commonly disrupted by large-magnitude offset thrust, strike-slip, and normal faults, and locally affected by caldera formation. The most permeable aquifer materials within the study area include Cenozoic unconsolidated sediments and volcanic rocks, along with Mesozoic and Paleozoic carbonate rocks. The framework was built by extracting and combining information from digital elevation models, geologic maps, cross sections, drill hole logs, existing hydrogeologic frameworks, and geophysical data.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Conceptual model of the Great Basin carbonate and alluvial aquifer system
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Utah Water Science Center
Report: xii, 192 p.; 2 Plates, Auxiliary 1-6. A8-1;; Chapter A, Chapter B, Chapter C, Chapter D, Appendix 1, Appendix 2, Appendix 3, Appendix 4, Appendix 5, Appendix 6, Appendix 7, Appendix 8, Plate 1,Plate 2; Instructions
United States
Other Geospatial:
Great Basin Carbonate And Alluvial Aquifer System
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