A summary of the occurrence and development of ground water in the southern High Plains of Texas

Water Supply Paper 1693




The Southern High Plains of Texas occupies an area of about 22,000 square miles in n'Orthwest Texas, extending fr'Om the Canadian River southward. about 250 miles and fr'Om the New Mexico line eastward an average distance of about 120 miles. The economy of the area is dependent largely upon irrigated agriculture, and in 1958 about 44,000 irrigation wells were in operation. The economy of the area is also dependent upon the oil industry either in the f'Orm of oil and gas production or in the form of industries based on the producti'On of petroleum. The Southern High Plains of Tems is characterized. 'by a nearly flat land surface sloping gently toward. the southeast at an average of 8 to 10 feet per mile. Shallow undrained depressions or playas are characteristic of the plains surface, and during periods of heavy rainfall, runoff collects in the depressions to form temporary ponds or lakes. Stream drainage 'On the plains surface is poorly developed; water discharges over the eastern escarpment off the plains only during periods of excessive rainfall. The climate of the area is semiarid; the average annual precipitation is about 20 inches. About 70 percent of the precipitation falls during the growing season from April to September. Rocks of Permian age underlie the entire area and consist chiefly of red sandstone and shale containing nUmerous beds of gypsum and dolomite. The Permian rocks are not a source of water in the Southern High Plains, and any water in these rocks would probably be saline. The Triassic rocks underlying the 'S'Outhern Hi'gh Plains consist of three formations of the Dockum group: the Tecovas formation, the Santa Rosa sandstone. and the Chinle formation equivalent. The Tecovas and Chinle formation equivalent both consist chiefly of shale and sandy shale; however, the Santa Rosa sandstone consists mainly of medium to coarse conglomeratic sandstone containing some shale. Tbe formations of the Dockum group are capable of yielding small to moderate quantities of water in many parts of the Southern High Pl'ains; however, in practically all places the water is rather saline and pr

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
A summary of the occurrence and development of ground water in the southern High Plains of Texas
Series title:
Water Supply Paper
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. G.P.O.,
v, 88 p. :ill., maps ;24 cm.