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.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited