Geology and ground-water conditions of Clark County Washington, with a description of a major alluvial aquifer along the Columbia River

Water Supply Paper 1600



This report presents the results of an investigation of the ground-water resources of the populated parts of Clark County. Yields adequate for irrigation can be obtained from wells inmost farmed areas in Clark County, Wash. The total available supply is sufficient for all foreseeable irrigation developments. In a few local areas aquifers are fine-grained, and yields of individual wells are low. An enormous ground-water supply is available from a major alluvial aquifer underlying the flood plain of the Columbia River in the vicinity of Vancouver, Camas, and Washougal, where the aquifer is recharged, in part, by infiltration from the river. Yields of individual wells are large, ranging to as much as 4,000 gpm (gallons per minute). Clark County lies along the western flank of the Cascade Range. in the structural lowland (Willamette-Puget trough) between those mountains and the Coast Ranges to the west. The area covered by the report includes the urban, the suburban, and most of the agricultural lands in the county. These lands lie on a Series of nearly fiat plains and benches which rise steplike from the level of the Columbia River (a few feet above sea level) to about 800 feet above sea level. Clark County is-drained by the Columbia River (the trunk stream of the Pacific Northwest) and its tributaries. The Columbia River forms the southern and western boundaries of the county. Although the climate of the county is considered to be humid, the precipitation ranging from about 37 to more than 110 inches annually in various parts of the county, the unequal seasonal distribution (about 1.5 inches total for ;July and August in the agricultural area) makes irrigation highly desirable for most .crops and essential for some specialized crops. Consolidated rocks of Eocene to Miocene age, chiefly volcanic lava flows and pyroclastics but including some sedimentary strata, crop out in the foothills of the Cascades in the eastern part of the county and underlie the younger, unconsolidated rocks in the lowlands to the west At most places small to moderate quantities of water can be obtained from fractures in the older consolidated rocks. However, in the populated parts of the county, these rocks generally are overlain by considerable thicknesses of more permeable materials, and few wells have been drilled in them. Springs and dug wells yield an ample domestic supply at a number of outlying farms in the foothills. The younger (Pliocene to Recent) unconsolidated materials were deposited chiefly by streams in the basin formed by downwarping of the older rocks. However, some lake deposits and glacial drift also are included. The oldest unit of this group, the lower member of the Troutdale formation of Pliocene age, consists chiefly of clay, silt, and fine sand but includes lenses of coarser sand and, rarely, gravel. The maximum known thickness of the lower member of the Troutdale formation is about 660 feet. This unit is not a good aquifer because most of the strata are fine grained. However, at a few places drilled wells have penetrated lenses of coarser grained materials in these deposits and have obtained small to moderate amounts of water from them. The upper member of the Troutdale formation consists almost entirely of lightly to moderately cemented gravel, of which the most striking feature is the presence of a considerable percentage of quartzite pebbles. The average thickness of the upper member of the Troutdale may originally have been 300 to 400 feet. The member crops out over considerable areas in the county and, where conditions of topography and exposure are optimum, has beer very deeply weathered. It is suggested that the upper member of the Troutdale formation may prove to be of early Pleistocene age. This member is one of the best aquifers in the county; here, more drilled wells have been completed in this unit than in any other--most i
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Geology and ground-water conditions of Clark County Washington, with a description of a major alluvial aquifer along the Columbia River
Series title Water Supply Paper
Series number 1600
DOI 10.3133/wsp1600
Edition -
Year Published 1964
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. G.P.O.,
Description vi, 267 p. :ill., maps ;24 cm.
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