Hydrogeologic Characterization of the Hualapai Plateau on the Western Hualapai Indian Reservation, Northwestern Arizona

Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5025
Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation
By: , and 



This study was developed to assess if groundwater from the western Hualapai Plateau could be used to supply developments in the Grand Canyon West area of the Hualapai Indian Reservation and to collect hydrogeologic data for future use in a numerical groundwater model for the reservation. Ground-based geophysical surveys; existing well, spring, and other hydrogeologic information from previous studies; and new well and spring data collected for this study were used to provide a better understanding of the hydrogeology of the western Hualapai Plateau.

Surface geophysical data provided information on the depth and geologic structure of lower Paleozoic rock units and Proterozoic crystalline and metamorphic rocks that underlie the western Hualapai Plateau. The surface geophysical data and discharge information from springs were used to select a site to drill and develop the U.S. Geological Survey Hualapai Test Well.

The Hualapai Test Well was drilled to understand the geophysical properties of geologic formations at depth. These data were used to verify the results of surface geophysical data and to evaluate if sufficient water was present in the Hualapai Test Well for potential groundwater development. The Hualapai Test Well was drilled to a depth of 2,468 feet and bottomed in Proterozoic granite. Water was expected in the lower part of the Muav Limestone, but water was not observed until the Tapeats Sandstone at a depth of 2,400 feet. The Tapeats Sandstone was determined to be confined with a hydrostatic head of over 900 feet. A 48-hour pumping test was conducted to determine aquifer properties. Low specific capacity indicated that although groundwater is present in the Tapeats Sandstone, well yields are likely to be small. A water-quality sample indicated the sample had a calcium, magnesium-bicarbonate water type with a total dissolved-solids concentration of 371 milligrams per liter. Alpha radioactivity of the sample, 18.3 picocuries per liter, exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maximum contaminant level of 15 picocuries per liter for drinking water. Concentrations of iron and manganese in the water sample also exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency secondary maximum contaminant levels for drinking water.

An inventory of wells and springs provided insight into the occurrence of groundwater on the western Hualapai Plateau. Data from 56 springs on and adjacent to the western Hualapai Plateau were compiled for this study, and new data were collected at 31 springs. Discharge from springs visited for this study ranged from dry to about 345 gallons per minute. The temporal data from springs, where repeat measurements were available, indicated that spring flow is highly variable and likely related to seasonal and annual precipitation. Water levels from 36 wells on and adjacent to the western Hualapai Plateau were compiled for this study, and new water levels were collected at 5 wells. The spring and well data in conjunction with the Hualapai Test Well results indicated that on the western Hualapai Plateau, bedrock aquifers have limited discrete flow paths that make extensive groundwater development unlikely.

Suggested Citation

Mason, J.P., Macy, J.P., Bills, D.J., Gungle, B.W., and Jones, C.J., 2020, Hydrogeologic characterization of the Hualapai Plateau on the western Hualapai Indian Reservation, northwestern Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2020–5025, 38 p, https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20205025.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Summary
  • References Cited

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydrogeologic characterization of the Hualapai Plateau on the western Hualapai Indian Reservation, northwestern Arizona
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2020-5025
DOI 10.3133/sir20205025
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Arizona Water Science Center
Description Report: viii, 38 p.; Data Release; 5 Tables
Country United States
State Arizona
Other Geospatial Hualapai Plateau
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
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