Water-level altitudes 2017 and water-level changes in the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper Aquifers and compaction 1973–2016 in the Chicot and Evangeline Aquifers, Houston-Galveston region, Texas

Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5080
Prepared in cooperation with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, City of Houston, Fort Bend Subsidence District, Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, and Brazoria County Groundwater Conservation District
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  • Document: Report (16.8 MB pdf)
  • Data Releases:
    • USGS - Data Release Water-level measurement data, water-level altitude and long-term water-level altitude change contours (2017) in the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers, Houston-Galveston region, Texas
    • USGS - Data Release Cumulative compaction of subsurface sediments (2016) in 13 extensometers completed in the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers in the Houston-Galveston region, Texas
  • Open Access Version: Publisher Index Page
  • Download citation as: RIS | Dublin Core

Abstract

Most of the land-surface subsidence in the Houston-Galveston region, Texas, has occurred as a direct result of groundwater withdrawals for municipal supply, commercial and industrial use, and irrigation that depressured and dewatered the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers, thereby causing compaction of the aquifer sediments, mostly in the fine-grained silt and clay layers. This report, prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, City of Houston, Fort Bend Subsidence District, Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, and Brazoria County Groundwater Conservation District, is one in an annual series of reports depicting water-level altitudes and water-level changes in the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers and measured cumulative compaction of subsurface sediments in the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers in the Houston-Galveston region. This report contains regional-scale maps depicting approximate 2017 water-level altitudes (represented by measurements made during December 2016 through March 2017) and long-term water-level changes for the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers; a map depicting locations of borehole-extensometer (hereinafter referred to as “extensometer”) sites; and graphs depicting measured long-term cumulative compaction of subsurface sediments at the extensometers during 1973–2016.

In 2017, water-level-altitude contours for the Chicot aquifer ranged from 200 feet (ft) below the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (hereinafter referred to as “datum”) in two localized areas in southwestern and northwestern Harris County to 200 ft above datum in west-central Montgomery County. The largest water-level-altitude decline (120 ft) depicted by the 1977–2017 water-level-change contours for the Chicot aquifer was in northwestern Harris County. A broad area where water-level altitudes declined in the Chicot aquifer extends from northwestern, north-central, and southwestern Harris County across parts of north-central, eastern, and south-central Fort Bend County into southeastern Waller County. Adjacent to the areas where water levels declined was a broad area where water levels rose in central, eastern, and southeastern Harris County, most of Galveston County, eastern and northernmost Brazoria County, and northeastern Fort Bend County. The largest rise (200 ft) in water-level altitudes in the Chicot aquifer from 1977 to 2017 was in southeastern Harris County.

The water-level-altitude contours for the Evangeline aquifer in 2017 indicated two areas where the water-level altitudes were 250 ft below datum—one area extending from south-central Montgomery County into north-central Harris County and another area in western Harris County. Water-level altitudes in the Evangeline aquifer ranged from 50 to 200 ft below datum throughout most of Harris County in 2017. In Montgomery County, water-level altitudes in the Evangeline aquifer in 2017 ranged from the aforementioned area where they were 250 ft below datum to an area where they were 200 ft above datum in the northwestern part of the county. The 1977–2017 water-level-change contours for the Evangeline aquifer depict a broad area where water-level altitudes declined in north-central Harris and south-central Montgomery Counties, extending through north-central, northwestern, and southwestern Harris County into western Liberty, southeastern and northeastern Waller, and northeastern and east-central Fort Bend Counties. The largest water-level-altitude decline (280 ft) was in north-central Harris and south-central Montgomery Counties. Water-level altitudes rose in a broad area from central, east-central, and southern Harris County extending into the northernmost part of Brazoria County, the northernmost part of Galveston County, and the southwestern area of Liberty County. The largest rise in water-level altitudes in the Evangeline aquifer from 1977 to 2017 (240 ft) was in southeastern Harris County.

Water-level-altitude contours for the Jasper aquifer in 2017 ranged from 200 ft below datum in three isolated areas of south-central Montgomery County (the westernmost of these areas extended slightly into north-central Harris County) to 250 ft above datum in extreme northwestern Montgomery County, northeastern Grimes County, and southwestern Walker County. The 2000–17 water-level-change contours for the Jasper aquifer depict water-level declines in a broad area throughout most of Montgomery County and in parts of Waller, Grimes, and Harris Counties, with the largest decline (220 ft) in an isolated area in south-central Montgomery County.

Compaction of subsurface sediments (mostly in the fine-grained silt and clay layers) in the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers was recorded continuously by using 13 extensometers at 11 sites that were either activated or installed between 1973 and 1980. During the period of record beginning in 1973 (or later depending on activation or installation date) and ending in late November or December 2016, measured cumulative compaction at the 13 extensometers ranged from 0.096 ft at the Texas City-Moses Lake extensometer to 3.700 ft at the Addicks extensometer. From January through late November or December 2016, the Addicks, Lake Houston, Southwest, and Northeast extensometers recorded net decreases in land-surface elevation, but the Baytown C–1 (shallow), Baytown C–2 (deep), Clear Lake (shallow), Clear Lake (deep), East End, Johnson Space Center, Pasadena, Seabrook, and Texas City-Moses Lake extensometers recorded net increases in land-surface elevation.

The rate of compaction varies from site to site because of differences in rates of groundwater withdrawal in the areas adjacent to each extensometer site; differences among sites in the ratios of sand, silt, and clay and their corresponding compressibilities; and previously established preconsolidation heads. It is not appropriate, therefore, to extrapolate or infer a rate of compaction for an adjacent area on the basis of the rate of compaction recorded by proximal extensometers.

Suggested Citation

Kasmarek, M.C., and Ramage, J.K., 2017, Water-level altitudes 2017 and water-level changes in the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers and compaction 1973–2016 in the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers, Houston-Galveston region, Texas: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5080, 32 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175080.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

ISSN: 2328-031X (print)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Data-Collection and Analysis Methods
  • Water-Level Altitudes and Changes
  • Compaction of Subsurface Sediments in the Chicot and Evangeline Aquifers
  • Data Limitations
  • Summary
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Water-level altitudes 2017 and water-level changes in the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper Aquifers and compaction 1973–2016 in the Chicot and Evangeline Aquifers, Houston-Galveston region, Texas
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2017-5080
DOI 10.3133/sir20175080
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Texas Water Science Center
Description Report: vii, 32 p.; Data Releases
Country United States
State Texas
City Galveston, Houston
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y