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Online tool illustrates groundwater resources in Texas Panhandle

  • Online tool illustrates groundwater resources in Texas Panhandle
    USGS scientist Jon Thomas collecting time-domain electromagnetic sounding in the Texas southern high plains to measure hydrogeologic properties below the land surface. (Credit: Andy Teeple, USGS. Public domain.)

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We provide science about the natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change.

An interactive viewer to visualize groundwater resources in Gaines, Terry and Yoakum Counties, Texas, is now available from the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Llano Estacado Underground Water Conservation District, Sandy Land Underground Water Conservation District and South Plains Underground Water Conservation District. 

Groundwater users, resource managers and scientists can now access hydrogeologic information using the online tool. The technology utilized in this application has the potential to be applied to groundwater resources anywhere. 

Declining groundwater levels in and around the Texas Panhandle have raised concerns about the amount of available groundwater and the potential for water-quality changes.

Scientists compiled more than 11,500 well records containing pertinent data, including those delineating the vertical extents of wells penetrating one or more of the units. Additional geophysical data were collected to improve the spatial coverage of available information across the study area and to reduce uncertainty regarding hydrogeologic unit extents.

Results provided a refined understanding of how the saturated thickness of the Ogallala and Edwards-Trinity aquifers vary throughout the study area.

In a related USGS report, one major finding shows that across the study area, the average altitude of the base of the Ogallala aquifer was approximately 1.7 feet lower compared to previous assessments. This suggests that there may be more water stored in the aquifer than previously estimated. 

The potentiometric contours layer for the Ogallala aquifer is a map of the water table surface circa 2015. The groundwater flow path layer shows that groundwater moves to the southeast following the slope of the water table surface.

The Column tab allows users to click any point in the study area to obtain a hydrogeologic column that shows the thicknesses of the units estimated at that location, the depth to contacts between units, and the thickness of water contained in the Ogallala formation.

The Ogallala aquifer median dissolved-solids concentration layer shows points where groundwater-quality data were collected and indicate that most of the western part of the study area has dissolved solids that are less than or equal to 1000 milligrams per liter; and higher dissolved solids are present in the eastern part of the study area.

The Water Level Change tab under the Ogallala aquifer has a layer that shows the difference in water level elevations between early development (1930-1960) and recent development (2005-2015) in the Ogallala aquifer. 

USGS scientists collect time-domain electromagnetic sounding in the Texas southern high plains to measure hydrogeologic properties below the land surface.(Credit: Natalie Houston, USGS. Public domain.)

USGS scientists setting up the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) geophyiscal logging tool to collect information about rock properties from a groundwater well borehole in the Texas southern high plains. (Credit: Kurt Kraske, USGS. Public domain.)

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