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A Columbia River Basalt Group Aquifer in Sustained Drought: Insight from Geophysical Methods

Department of Geological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3022, USA
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Academic Editor: John A. Luczaj
Resources 2015, 4(3), 577-596; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources4030577
Received: 10 April 2015 / Revised: 21 July 2015 / Accepted: 21 July 2015 / Published: 24 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Quantity and Quality)
Aquifers within the Columbia River Basalt Group (CRBG) provide a critical water supply throughout much of the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Increased pumping has resulted in water level declines in this region. Recharge into this aquifer system is generally not well understood. Recent suggestions of probable decades-long droughts in the 21st century add to this problem. We show that geophysical methods can provide useful parameters for improved modeling of aquifers in a primary CRBG aquifer located on the eastern edge of the Columbia Plateau. Groundwater models depend in part on the area, thickness, porosity, storativity, and nature of confinement of this aquifer, most of which are poorly constrained by existing well information and previous stress tests. We have made use of surface gravity measurements, borehole gravity measurements, barometric efficiency estimates, earth tidal response, and earthquake seismology observations to constrain these parameters. We show that the aquifer, despite its persistent drawdown, receives a great deal of recharge annually. Much of the recharge to the aquifer is due to leakage from overlying flows, ultimately tied to precipitation, an important result for future aquifer management in times of sustained drought. View Full-Text
Keywords: aquifer; recharge; geophysics; hydrogeophysics; Columbia River Basalt Group aquifer; recharge; geophysics; hydrogeophysics; Columbia River Basalt Group
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Piersol, M.W.; Sprenke, K.F. A Columbia River Basalt Group Aquifer in Sustained Drought: Insight from Geophysical Methods. Resources 2015, 4, 577-596.

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