Hydrogeologic and geochemical characterization of groundwater resources in Deep Creek Valley and adjacent areas, Juab and Tooele Counties, Utah, and Elko and White Pine Counties, Nevada

Scientific Investigations Report 2015-5097
Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs
By:  and 

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Abstract

The water resources of Deep Creek Valley were assessed during 2012–13 with an emphasis on better understanding the groundwater flow system and groundwater budget. Surface-water resources are limited in Deep Creek Valley and are generally used for agriculture. Groundwater is the predominant water source for most other uses and to supplement irrigation. Most groundwater withdrawal in Deep Creek Valley occurs from the unconsolidated basin-fill deposits, in which conditions are generally unconfined near the mountain front and confined in the lower-altitude parts of the valley. Productive aquifers are also present in fractured bedrock that occurs along the valley margins and beneath the basin-fill deposits. The consolidated-rock and basin-fill aquifers are hydraulically connected in many areas with much of the recharge occurring in the consolidated-rock mountain blocks and most of the discharge occurring from the lower-altitude basin-fill deposits.

Average annual recharge to the Deep Creek Valley hydrographic area was estimated to be between 19,000 and 29,000 acre-feet. Groundwater recharge occurs mostly from the infiltration of precipitation and snowmelt at high altitudes. Additional, but limited recharge occurs from the infiltration of runoff from precipitation near the mountain front, infiltration along stream channels, and possible subsurface inflow from adjacent hydrographic areas. Groundwater moves from areas of recharge to springs and streams in the mountains, and to evapotranspiration areas, springs, streams, and wells in the basins. Discharge may also occur as subsurface groundwater outflow to adjacent hydrographic areas. Average annual discharge from the Deep Creek Valley hydrographic area was estimated to be between 21,000 and 22,000 acre-feet, with the largest portion of discharge occurring as evapotranspiration.

Groundwater samples were collected from 10 sites for geochemical analysis. Dissolved-solids concentrations ranged from 126 to 475 milligrams per liter, and none of the sites sampled during this study had dissolved-solids concentrations that exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency secondary standard for drinking water of 500 milligrams per liter. Tritium concentrations from 1.6 to 10.1 tritium units at 3 of the 10 sample sites indicate the presence of modern (less than 60 years old) groundwater, and apparent tritium/helium-3 ages calculated for these sites ranged from 7 to 29 years. The other seven sample sites had tritium concentrations less than or equal to 0.4 tritium units and are assumed to be pre-modern. Adjusted minimum radiocarbon ages of these seven pre-modern water samples ranged from 1,000 to 8,000 years with the ages of at least four of the samples being more than 3,000 years. Noble-gas recharge temperatures indicate that groundwater sampled along the valley axis recharged at both mountain and valley altitudes, providing evidence for both mountain-block and mountain-front recharge.

Water-level altitude contours and groundwater ages indicate the potential for a long flow path from southwest to northeast between northern Spring and Deep Creek Valleys through Tippett Valley. Although information gathered during this study is insufficient to conclude whether or not groundwater travels along this interbasin flow path, dissolved sulfate and chloride data indicate that a small fraction of the lower altitude, northern Deep Creek Valley discharge may be sourced from these areas. Despite the uncertainty due to limited data collection points, a hydraulic connection between northern Spring Valley, Tippett Valley, and Deep Creek Valley appears likely, and potential regional effects resulting from future groundwater withdrawals in northern Spring Valley warrant ongoing monitoring of groundwater levels across this area.

Suggested Citation

Gardner, P.M., and Masbruch, M.D., 2015, Hydrogeologic and geochemical characterization of groundwater resources in Deep Creek Valley and adjacent areas, Juab and Tooele Counties, Utah, and Elko and White Pine Counties, Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5097, 53 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20155097.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Groundwater Hydrology
  • Groundwater Geochemistry
  • Discussion
  • Summary
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Data Tables
  • Appendix 2. Groundwater Budget Uncertainty

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydrogeologic and geochemical characterization of groundwater resources in Deep Creek Valley and adjacent areas, Juab and Tooele Counties, Utah, and Elko and White Pine Counties, Nevada
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2015-5097
DOI 10.3133/sir20155097
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Utah Water Science Center
Description viii, 54 p.
Country United States
State Nevada, Utah
County Elko County, Juab County, Tooele County, White Pine County
Other Geospatial Deep Creek Valley
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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