Characterization of Big Chino Subbasin Hydrogeology near Paulden, Arizona, Using Controlled Source Audio-Frequency Magnetotelluric Surveys

Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5082
Prepared in cooperation with the City of Prescott, the Town of Prescott Valley, and Salt River Project
By: , and 



The Big Chino subbasin is located in central-northwest Arizona in the transition zone between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range Province. The controlled source audio-frequency magnetotelluric (CSAMT) geophysical method, a low-impact, non-intrusive, electrical resistance sounding technique, was used to evaluate the subsurface hydrogeology of the southern third of the Big Chino subbasin. The Big Chino subbasin is a northwest-trending, late Tertiary graben bordered by the Big Chino Fault along its northeast flank where there is as much as 1,100 meters of displacement. The main water-bearing stratigraphic unit of the basin is Tertiary alluvial-fill sediment. The Devonian Martin Formation provides water to wells near Drake and the Mississippian Redwall Limestone provides water to wells east of the basin and in the Paulden area.

The purpose of the CSAMT surveys was to improve the conceptual model of the aquifer by constraining the basin geometry and identifying stratigraphic units and their subsurface extents. CSAMT methods were used to map the subsurface along 100 kilometers (62 miles) of survey lines across the southern third of the subbasin. Of 21 survey lines, 14 were west of the town of Paulden and another 7 were east of Paulden. Data were cleaned and prepared for entry into Zonge SCS2D software and then inverted to provide a two-dimensional resistivity profile for each survey line. Final inversion models representing the best fit to measured data were compared to driller’s logs or borehole data where present.

Data from the CSAMT lines west and north of Paulden are consistent with thicker alluvial basin deposits that range from 100 meters thick to a few hundred meters thick. Data from the CSAMT lines east of Paulden are consistent with thinner alluvial and basalt deposits overlying Paleozoic Martin Formation and Redwall Limestone, Tapeats Sandstone, and Precambrian granite and schist.

Suggested Citation

Macy, J.P., Gungle, B., and Mason, J.P., 2019, Characterization of Big Chino subbasin hydrogeology near Paulden, Arizona, using controlled source audio-frequency magnetotellursurveys: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2019–5082, 39 p., ic

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Purpose and Scope
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Summary
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Characterization of Big Chino subbasin hydrogeology near Paulden, Arizona, using controlled source audio-frequency magnetotelluric surveys
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2019-5082
DOI 10.3133/sir20195082
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Arizona Water Science Center
Description vii, 39 p.
Country United States
State Arizona
County Yavapai County
Online Only (Y/N) Y
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