The Eola-Amity Hills area ,comprises about 230 square miles on the west side of the Willamette Valley between Salem and McMinnville, Oreg. The area is largely rural, and agriculture is the principal occupation.
Rocks ranging in age from Eocene to Recent underlie the area. The oldest rocks are a sequence more than 5,000 feet thick of marine-deposited shale and siltstone strata, with thin interbeds of sandstone that range in age from Eocene to middle Oligocene. They are widely exposed in and west of the Eola-Amity Hills and underlie younger sedimentary and volcanic rocks throughout the study area. In the Eola-Amity Hills and Red Hills of Dundee, the Columbia River Group, a series of eastward-dipping basaltic lava flows locally of Miocene age, and conformably overlies the marine sedimentary rocks. The Columbia River Group ranges in thickness from less than 1 foot to about 900 feet and has an average thickness of about 200 feet. The formation is exposed in the Eola-Amity Hills and Red Hills of Dundee and, at places, extends to the east beneath younger rocks.
Overlying the Columbia River Group and marine sedimentary rocks are nonmarine sedimentary deposits that range in thickness from less than 1 foot, where they lap up (to an altitude of about 200 ft) on the flanks of the higher hills, to several hundred feet along the east margin of the study area. These deposits include the Troutdale Formation of Pliocene age, the Willamette Silt of late Pleistocene age, and alluvium of the Willamette River and its tributaries.
The Troutdale Formation and the alluvium of the Willamette River contain the most productive aquifers in the Eola-Amity Hills area. These aquifers, which consist mainly of sand and gravel, generally yield moderate to large quantities of water to properly constructed wells. Basalt of the Columbia River Group yields small to moderate quantities of water to wells, and the marine sedimentary rocks and Willamette Silt generally yield small but adequate quantities of water for domestic and stock supplies.
Ground water from the Columbia River Group and nonmarine sedimentary rocks is chemically suitable for irrigation and other uses, as is the water from shallow depths in the marine sedimentary rocks. However, water from depths of more than several hundred feet in the marine sedimentary rocks contains large amounts of chloride and other dissolved mineral constitutents that make it unsuitable for most uses. Samples from three fairly closely spaced wells obtaining water from depth zones of 50 to 77, 191 to 201, and about 2,000 feet contained 172, 1,160, and 26,000 ppm (parts per million) of chloride, respectively. About 6,100 acre-feet of ground water was pumped from wells and withdrawn from springs for various uses during 1964; of this amount about 4,800 acre-feet was used for irrigation. The total volume of ground water withdrawn and put to beneficial use each year is small compared with the amount that discharges naturally by evapotranspiration and through undeveloped seeps and springs. Much of the natural discharge could be intercepted and put to beneficial use by pumping from wells.
Major problems affecting the development of ground water in the area include a) uneven areal distribution of permeable rocks, (b) undesirable chemical quality of the ground water locally in the marine sedimentary rocks, and (c) fine sand entering wells that tap the Troutdale Formation and thereby causing loss of well efficiency and costly wear on pumps and water-supply systems.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Ground water in the Eola-Amity Hills area, northern Willamette Valley, Oregon