Water levels of the Ozark aquifer in northern Arkansas, 2013

Scientific Investigations Report 2015-5088
Prepared in cooperation with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and the Arkansas Geological Survey
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Abstract

The Ozark aquifer is the largest aquifer, both in area of outcrop and thickness, and the most important source of freshwater in the Ozark Plateaus physiographic province, supplying water to northern Arkansas, southeastern Kansas, southern Missouri, and northeastern Oklahoma. The study area includes 16 Arkansas counties lying completely or partially within the Ozark Plateaus of the Interior Highlands major physiographic division. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and the Arkansas Geological Survey, conducted a study of water levels in the Ozark aquifer within Arkansas. This report presents a potentiometric-surface map of the Ozark aquifer within the Ozark Plateaus of northern Arkansas, representing water-level conditions for the early spring of 2013 and selected water-level hydrographs.

The Ozark aquifer in Arkansas is composed of dolomites, limestones, sandstones, and shales of Late Cambrian to Middle Devonian age and ranges in thickness from approximately 1,100 feet (ft) in northwestern Arkansas to more than 4,000 ft in the west-central part of Arkansas. Most wells completed in the aquifer yield between 50 and 100 gallons per minute (gal/min), although some wells may yield as much as 600 gal/min.

Water-level measurements were made in wells completed in the Ozark aquifer from February to May 2013. Hydrographs were constructed for nine wells that have water-level measurements with a minimum 20-year period of record.

Water-level altitudes in wells used to construct the potentiometric-surface map range from about 1,159 ft to 313 ft above National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD 29). The highest water-level altitudes occur in Carroll and Washington Counties while water-level altitudes of less than 400 ft above NGVD 29 are mapped along the eastern and southeastern part of the study area in Independence, Lawrence, Randolph, and Sharp Counties. The lowest water level of 313 ft above NGVD 29 was measured in southwestern Randolph County.

The direction of groundwater flow generally is affected by local topography, flowing from high altitudes toward stream valleys. In southern Baxter, eastern Fulton, Independence, eastern Izard, Lawrence, Randolph, and Sharp Counties, the groundwater flow is generally to the south and southeast. In western Fulton and Izard Counties, the groundwater flow is generally to the southwest. In Boone, Marion, Newton, Searcy, and Stone Counties, the groundwater flow is generally to the east and northeast. In eastern Benton, Carroll, Madison, and eastern Washington Counties, the groundwater flow is generally to the north and northeast. In western Benton and western Washington Counties, the groundwater flow is generally to the west and northwest.

The general level and shape of the potentiometric surface has changed little since predevelopment. A comparison of the predevelopment potentiometric surface and the 2007, 2010, and 2013 potentiometric surfaces indicate general agreement between the mapped surfaces with the exception of parts of Benton, Boone, Marion, and Washington Counties. In Boone and northern Marion Counties in 2013, water levels have declined when compared to the predevelopment potentiometric surface, although the direction of flow is still to the northeast and north. In southern Marion County, water levels have declined when compared to the predevelopment, 2007, and 2010 potentiometric surfaces, although the direction of flow is towards and along the stream valleys. In western Benton and northwestern Washington Counties, water levels are similar when compared to the predevelopment potentiometric surface, and the direction of flow is to the west and northwest, similar to the predevelopment direction of flow. The mapped 2007 and 2010 potentiometric surfaces are very different from the mapped 2013 potentiometric surface in western Benton and northwestern Washington Counties. The mapped 2013 potentiometric surface in western Benton and northwestern Washington Counties follows the contours of the top of the formation, similar to the predevelopment potentiometric surface. Since 1975, water use in the Ozark aquifer has declined 45 percent, while water levels in Benton, Boone, Marion, and Washington Counties continue to decline.

Nine hydrographs were selected as representative of the water-level conditions in their respective counties. Wells in Fulton, Izard, and Newton Counties (station names 20N08W27ABD1, 18N09W15BCB1, and 16N21W34ABC1, respectively) have water levels that are within the usual range of values for their respective counties. Wells in Boone, Marion, and Washington Counties (station names 18N19W19BCC1, 19N15W20ACC1, and 16N32W09ABD1, respectively) have water levels that have recently declined or are declining for the period of record. Wells in Benton, Carroll, and Sharp Counties (station names 19N29W07DAA1, 21N26W17BCC1, and 15N05W06DDD1, respectively) have water levels that have been rising recently.

Suggested Citation

Schrader, T.P., 2015, Water levels of the Ozark aquifer in northern Arkansas, 2013: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5088, 17 p., 1 pl., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20155088.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Water Use
  • Aquifer Description
  • Water Levels
  • Summary
  • Selected References

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Water levels of the Ozark aquifer in northern Arkansas, 2013
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2015-5088
DOI 10.3133/sir20155088
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Arkansas Water Science Center
Description Report: iv, 17 p.; 1 Plate: 17.0 x 11.0 inches
Country United States
State Arkansas
Other Geospatial Ozark Aquifer
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y