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Geohydrologic reconnaissance of the Avoca lignite deposit area near Williston, northwestern North Dakota

Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4024

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Abstract

The Avoca lignite deposit in the Sentinel Butte Member of the Fort Union Formation consists of four potentially strippable lignite beds. Average bed thicknesses, in descending order, are 5, 5, 9, and 8 .feet. In the area between Stony Creek and Crazy Man Coulee, the lignite beds are unsaturated, and between Stony Creek and Little Muddy River, only the two lowest beds are saturated. Natural discharge to outcrops in the stream valleys results in low potentiometric levels in the lignite beds.

Aquifers in sandstone beds in the Fox Hills Sandstone and the Hell Creek Formation probably would yield as much as 50 gallons per minute of sodium bicarbonate type water. Dissolved-solids concentrations range from 800 to 2,000 milligrams per liter. The aquifers are from 1,100 to 1,800 feet below land surface. Sandstone beds in the Ludlow and Cannonball Members of the Fort Union Formation probably could yield several gallons per minute of sodium bicarbonate water with dissolved-solids concentrations ranging from 800 to 2,000 milligrams per liter. Aquifers in the Ludlow and Cannonball Members lie between 700 and 1,300 feet below land surface. Individual sand beds in the Tongue River and Sentinel Butte Members of the Fort Union Formation are the shallowest aquifers encountered below the minable lignite beds. Properly constructed wells completed in these sand beds could yield as much as 40 gallons per minute. The water generally is a sodium bicarbonate type with dissolved-solids concentrations ranging from about 500 to 4,200 milligrams per liter. Alluvium and glacial-drift deposits constitute the Little Muddy aquifer bordering the lignite deposit on the west and south. The aquifer could yield as much as 1,200 gallons per minute of sodium bicarbonate type water with dissolved-solids concentrations ranging from 975 to 1, 730 milligrams per liter.

Little Muddy Creek and Stony Creek have significant base flow. The flow is contributed partly by discharge from the lignite. Quality of water is least mineralized at high stream flows. Mining would not severely affect ground-water levels because potentiometric levels already are low. Chemically enriched leachate water from the spoils could percolate to the saturated zone and eventually reach the streams as base flow or recharge the glaciofluvial aquifers.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Geohydrologic reconnaissance of the Avoca lignite deposit area near Williston, northwestern North Dakota
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
85-4024
Year Published:
1985
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
North Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center
Description:
Report: v, 22 p.; Plate: 10.12 x 16.55 inches