Geologic and geophysical models for Osage County, Oklahoma, with implications for groundwater resources

Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5067

Prepared in cooperation with the Osage Nation
ORCID iD , , , and



This report summarizes a three-dimensional (3-D) geologic model that was constructed to provide a framework to investigate groundwater resources of the Osage Nation in northeastern Oklahoma. This report also presents an analysis of an airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey that assessed the spatial variation of electrical resistivity to depths as great as 300 meters in the subsurface. The report and model provide support for a countywide assessment of groundwater resources, emphasizing the Upper Pennsylvanian rock units in the shallow subsurface of central and eastern Osage County having electrical resistivity properties that may indicate aquifers.

Surface outcrops and subsurface stratigraphic picks on wire-line geophysical logs of Upper Pennsylvanian–Lower Permian sedimentary rock were used to construct a 3-D model of the geologic subsurface as an aid for evaluating groundwater resources in Osage County. Quaternary alluvium and terraces along major streams and the Arkansas River are included in the geologic framework model. Data from the AEM survey were subjected to quality-control procedures, truncated at depth of investigation (DOI), and then used to build a 3-D electrical resistivity model making use of secondary and tertiary interpolation profiles between primary data profiles. The AEM data highlight westward-inclined resistivity gradients that parallel the shallow dip of bedrock strata; bodies have resistivity >30 ohm-meters, and extend as much as 10 kilometers (km) down the dip of host geologic units. Volume analysis and internal imaging of an integrated 3-D geology and electrical resistivity model give a proxy for likely aquifer units with large relative volumes of high resistivity: Quaternary alluvium, Elgin Sandstone Lentil in the upper part of the Vamoosa Group, Tallant Formation, and parts of a combined Wann-Iola-Chanute Formation. Less voluminous, high-resistivity bodies correspond to intervals in the lower part of the Vamoosa Group in the east-central part of the county and probable limestone intervals in the upper part of the Vanoss Group in the northwest part of the county. Northwestern and eastern troughs of potable water previously defined for central Osage County generally correspond to down-dip projections of high-resistivity bodies associated with the Elgin Sandstone Lentil of the Vamoosa Group and Tallant Formation, respectively.


Suggested Citation

Hudson, M.R., Smith, D.V., Pantea, M.P., and Becker, C.J., 2016, Geologic and geophysical models for Osage County, Oklahoma, and implications for groundwater resources: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5067, 27 p.,

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Geologic Setting
  • Data for Construction of the Geologic Model
  • Geologic Model Construction and Methodology
  • Geophysical Data and Modeling
  • Integrated Geological and Geophysical Model
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • References Cited
  • Appendix

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Geologic and geophysical models for Osage County, Oklahoma, with implications for groundwater resources
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Report: vii, 27 p.; Companion Files; Datasets; Metadata; Readme File
United States
Osage County
Online Only (Y/N):
Additional Online Files (Y/N):