Quality assurance and analysis of water levels in wells on Pahute Mesa and vicinity, Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2000-4014




Periodic and continual water-level data from 1963 to 1998 were compiled and quality assured for 65 observation wells on Pahute Mesa and vicinity, Nye County, Nevada. As part of the quality assurance of all water levels, ancillary data pertinent to computing hydraulic heads in wells were compiled and analyzed. Quality-assured water levels that were not necessarily in error but which did not represent static heads in the regional aquifer system, or required some other qualification, were flagged. Water levels flagged include those recovering from recent pumping or well construction, water levels affected by nuclear tests, and measurements affected by borehole deviations. A cursory examination of about 30 wells with available water-level and down-hole temperature data indicate that water levels in most wells on Pahute Mesa would not be significantly affected by temperature if corrected to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Wells with large corrections (greater than 10 feet) are those with long water columns (greater than 1,500 feet of water above the assumed point of inflow) in combination with mean water-column temperatures exceeding 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Water-level fluctuations in wells on Pahute Mesa are caused by several factors including infiltration of precipitation, barometric pressure, Earth tides, ground-water pumpage, and seismic events caused by tectonic activity and underground nuclear testing. No observed water-level fluctuations were attributed to a naturally occurring earthquake. The magnitude and duration of changes in water levels caused by nuclear tests are affected by the test size and the distance from a well to the test. Identifying water levels that might be affected by past nuclear tests is difficult because pre-testing water-level data are sparse. Hydrologically significant trends were found in 13 of 25 wells with multiple years of water-level record. The largest change in water levels (1,029 feet in 25 years) occurred in well U-19v PS 1D as a result of the Almendro nuclear test. Likely explanations for trends in most of the wells are either changes in precipitation patterns that affect recharge rates to the ground-water system, pumping effects from water-supply well U-20 WW, or a combination of these two factors.

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USGS Numbered Series
Quality assurance and analysis of water levels in wells on Pahute Mesa and vicinity, Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada
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Water-Resources Investigations Report
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U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ; Information Services [distributor],
iv, 68 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.