Determination of hydrologic properties needed to calculate average linear velocity and travel time of ground water in the principal aquifer underlying the southeastern part of Salt Lake Valley, Utah

Water-Resources Investigations Report 92-4085

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A 48-square-mile area in the southeastern part of the Salt Lake Valley, Utah, was studied to determine if generalized information obtained from geologic maps, water-level maps, and drillers' logs could be used to estimate hydraulic conduc- tivity, porosity, and slope of the potentiometric surface: the three properties needed to calculate average linear velocity of ground water. Estimated values of these properties could be used by water- management and regulatory agencies to compute values of average linear velocity, which could be further used to estimate travel time of ground water along selected flow lines, and thus to determine wellhead protection areas around public- supply wells. The methods used to estimate the three properties are based on assumptions about the drillers' descriptions, the depositional history of the sediments, and the boundary con- ditions of the hydrologic system. These assump- tions were based on geologic and hydrologic infor- mation determined from previous investigations. The reliability of the estimated values for hydro- logic properties and average linear velocity depends on the accuracy of these assumptions. Hydraulic conductivity of the principal aquifer was estimated by calculating the thickness- weighted average of values assigned to different drillers' descriptions of material penetrated during the construction of 98 wells. Using these 98 control points, the study area was divided into zones representing approximate hydraulic- conductivity values of 20, 60, 100, 140, 180, 220, and 250 feet per day. This range of values is about the same range of values used in developing a ground-water flow model of the principal aquifer in the early 1980s. Porosity of the principal aquifer was estimated by compiling the range of porosity values determined or estimated during previous investigations of basin-fill sediments, and then using five different values ranging from 15 to 35 percent to delineate zones in the study area that were assumed to be underlain by similar deposits. Delineation of the zones was based on depositional history of the area and the distri- bution of sediments shown on a surficial geologic map. Water levels in wells were measured twice in 1990: during late winter when ground-water with- drawals were the least and water levels the highest, and again in late summer, when ground- water withdrawals were the greatest and water levels the lowest. These water levels were used to construct potentiometric-contour maps and subsequently to determine the variability of the slope in the potentiometric surface in the area. Values for the three properties, derived from the described sources of information, were used to produce a map showing the general distribution of average linear velocity of ground water moving through the principal aquifer of the study area. Velocity derived ranged from 0.06 to 144 feet per day with a median of about 3 feet per day. Values were slightly faster for late summer 1990 than for late winter 1990, mainly because increased with- drawal of water during the summer created slightly steeper hydraulic-head gradients between the recharge area near the mountain front and the well fields farther to the west. The fastest average linear-velocity values were located at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon and south of Dry Creek near the mountain front, where the hydraulic con- ductivity was estimated to be the largest because the drillers described the sediments to be pre- dominantly clean and coarse grained. Both of these areas also had steep slopes in the potentiometric surface. Other areas where average linear velocity was fast included small areas near pumping wells where the slope in the potentiometric surface was locally steepened. No apparent relation between average linear velocity and porosity could be seen in the mapped distributions of these two properties. Calculation of travel time along a flow line to a well in the southwestern part of the study area during the sum

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Determination of hydrologic properties needed to calculate average linear velocity and travel time of ground water in the principal aquifer underlying the southeastern part of Salt Lake Valley, Utah
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Water-Resources Investigations Report
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U.S. Geological Survey ; USGS Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
iv, 30 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.