Chase County Geohydrology

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Table of Contents

Rock Formations


Mineral Resources

Economic Geology

Subsurface Rocks

Ground-water Resources

Ground-water Recharge

Ground-water Discharge


Chemical Character

Ground-water Regions

Records of Wells



Ground-water Regions in Chase County

Ground-water resources in various parts of Chase County may best be discussed by dividing the county into several ground-water regions and areas in which ground water occurs under similar conditions. These are discussed below. The symbol used for each on Plate 3 is given in parentheses after the name.

Bluestem Upland Region (B)

The Bluestem Upland region is characterized by undulating to gently rolling topography with a few rounded to flat-topped buttes. This region is developed on rocks of the Chase group, principally those above the escarpment-making Florence limestone, but it includes some land developed on adjacent uplands formed by the Wreford limestone and Matfield shale. Much of this region is bluestem grassland. Most of the wells in the region are drilled wells 40 to 150 feet deep, except for a few shallow dug wells along stream valleys.

The chief aquifers in the region, the Barneston and Wreford limestones, yield freshwater except where deeply buried. The Towanda and Cresswell limestones are good aquifers locally. Occasionally a well will derive water from the Kinney limestone or a permeable zone in one of the shales.

Cedar Creek Area (Bc)

This area, drained principally by Cedar Creek and its tributaries, comprises the largest division of the Bluestem Upland region in Chase County. The area is structurally a large basin, the center of which is near Wonsevu, in sec. 9, T. 22 S., R. 6 E. East of Wonsevu long dip slopes, 5 to 7 miles in width, are developed on the Doyle shale and Barneston limestone. North, south, and west of Wonsevu the dip slopes developed on the alternating limestone and shale formations have smaller areal extent.

Ground water is obtained by wells from the rocks of the Chase group at depths ranging from less than 5 feet to as much as 150 feet. Both confined and unconfined water are obtained. Springs are abundant, and small marsh spots occur in several places along streams where the water table intersects the land surface. The quality of the ground water is generally good (Table 7). Yields of 5 to 10 gallons per minute are common, but some wells yield 100 gallons or more per minute. Small supplies of water are obtained from thin alluvial deposits along the principal creeks.

South Elmdale Area (Bs)

The South Elmdale area is similar in many respects to the Cedar Creek area. Ground water is obtained from limestone aquifers of the Chase group, chiefly the Barneston and Wreford limestones. Ground water in the Barneston limestone occurs almost entirely as unconfined water in this area, but water in the Kinney and Wreford limestones occurs primarily as confined artesian water that has considerable head in parts of the area. There are several flowing artesian wells in the area.

The water is of good quality (Table 7). Yields of wells are small to moderate, ranging from less than 1 gallon per minute to as much as 75 gallons per minute. Wells obtain water at depths of a few feet to as much as 150 feet. Springs and seeps are common along the creeks in the eastern part of this area.

This area constitutes the southeast flank of the Elmdale anticline, a "high" area along the buried Nemaha anticline of the subsurface. The dip of the rock strata is to the south and east.

Middle Creek Area (Bm)

An upland developed on rocks of the Chase group and drained in part by Middle Creek constitutes a third ground-water area of the Bluestem Upland region.

Well water is obtained from rocks of the Chase group at depths ranging from a few feet to approximately 150 feet. The water is of good quality for stock and domestic use. Springs and seeps are numerous where the creeks have cut through the water-bearing limestone beds. Success in obtaining a good well is dependent on finding local structural lows and permeable zones in the water-bearing beds, especially around the marginal areas adjacent to the Elmdale area.

Well yields range from less than 1 gallon per minute to as much as 50 gallons per minute. The quality of water is generally good (Table 7).

Fox Creek Area (Bf)

The Fox Creek area along the north boundary of the county, drained in part by Fox Creek, is the border of a large upland developed on rocks of the Chase group in Morris County. Most of this area in Chase County is fairly well dissected, only small tracts remaining where rocks of the Barneston limestone are present and undissected.

For the most part wells are rather sparse in this area. Springs, however, are abundant along the creeks and together with numerous ponds supply most of the stock water in the Fox Creek area. Nearly all the area is bluestem pasture land. The yields of wells and the character of the ground water are similar to those in the Middle Creek area (Bm).

Thurman Area (Bt)

The Thurman area, in the southeast corner of the county, is a small upland between tributaries of the Verdigris River and tributaries of the Cottonwood River. Drainage is dominantly westward to the South Fork of the Cottonwood River. The general dip of the rocks in the area is to the west also.

Wells obtain water from the Barneston, Kinney, and Wreford limestones and from thin patchy deposits of alluvium along some of the creeks. Most of the wells are 50 feet or less in depth and have only small yields. The quality of the water is similar to that in the other areas of the Bluestem Upland region.

Dissected Bluestem Region (D)

The major part of Chase County is included in the ground-water region designated the Dissected Bluestem region. This region is developed almost entirely on rocks belonging to the Council Grove group, but it includes small hilly dissected areas developed on rocks included in the lower part of the Chase group. Rocks of the Admire group in Chase County and adjacent areas to the east are distinctly of lesser value as reservoirs of ground water, but inasmuch as these rocks occur at the surface in only three small areas in Chase County, they are included in this region for purposes of discussion in this report.

The chief aquifers are the Beattie, Grenola, Red Eagle, and Long Creek limestones. The Eiss limestone yields small supplies of water to wells locally. Other limestones of the Council Grove group are only occasionally the principal aquifer supplying a well.

A relatively minor part of the water obtained from the wells is derived from permeable zones in the shale beds separating the limestones.

The Admire group in Chase County consists chiefly of shale and sandy shale and minor amounts of sandstone and limestone. Good water supplies are not obtainable from these rocks in the county.

Many of the wells in this region are dug wells constructed in the surficial weathered limestones and shales. These wells are relatively shallow, generally ranging from 12 to 40 feet in depth. Many of them have been successful and adequate for the purpose they serve, mainly because of the large reservoir capacity of dug wells, although the water-bearing beds they tap are of low yield. However many of the shallow dug wells are inadequate in spite of their storage capacity. The static level in these wells fluctuates considerably.

Drilled wells in the region are generally deeper than the dug wells, commonly 30 to 60 feet deep and a few 100 feet or more. These wells frequently obtain confined water from joints, bedding planes, solution channels, or cavernous zones in the limestones; the productivity of the well is primarily dependent on the number and size of these openings penetrated in the zone of saturation. Periods of deficient rainfall affect the deeper wells and water-bearing zones less than they do the shallow wells.

The ground water is much more variable in chemical quality in this region than in the Bluestem Upland region (Table 7).

Rock Creek Area (Dr)

Abundant springs characterize a narrow strip of land drained by Rock Creek and other eastward-flowing tributaries along the west side of South Fork Cottonwood River. The area is used principally for grazing, and normally, spring-fed creeks supply most of the necessary stock water. Stock and domestic wells are relatively few. The wells generally have small yields, and the water varies considerably in chemical character. Some wells as shallow as 30 feet yield water too highly mineralized for domestic or stock use, whereas some other wells as deep as 80 or 100 feet obtain water of good quality.

North of Rock Creek the strata have a considerable easterly dip in places and in the area west of Spring Creek some of the water-bearing beds contain water under considerable head. Strata ranging from the Neva limestone to the Wreford limestone are exposed in the area centered around sec. 36, T. 19 S., R. 7 E. and dip eastward 100 to 160 feet in a distance of 3 or 4 miles. No flowing wells were observed in this area, however.

Many ponds have been constructed to supplement springs and wells as sources of stock water supply.

Elmdale Area (De)

A considerable area south, west, north, and northeast of Elmdale is included in the Elmdale area. The area lies on or adjacent to the crest of the buried Nemaha ridge. Except along the valleys, the land is almost entirely devoted to native grassland and wells are not abundant. Stockwater supplies are obtained in large part from creeks and springs, supplemented by stock ponds. With few exceptions the best wells are adjacent to the main drainage lines in the lower parts of the valleys. Yields of wells range from less than 500 gallons a day to as much as 100 gallons per minute, for example well 18-7-33aa. Quality of water is variable. Wells range in depth from a few feet to more than 100 feet.

Buckeye-Peyton Creek Area (Db)

The Buckeye-Peyton Creek area northeast of Strong City and north of Saffordville is essentially like the Elmdale section except for somewhat less relief and more areas of low cultivated slopes. In most of this area the best water-bearing beds of the Council Grove group, the Beattie, Grenola, Red Eagle, and Long Creek limestones, are near the surface and contain freshwater. Although a considerable number of shallow wells, for the most part less than 50 feet deep, are often inadequate as stock and domestic wells, there are many dependable wells of small to moderate yields in the area. Freshwater may be obtained at depths ranging from a few feet to approximately 150 feet. The quality of the water is variable but generally good (Table 7).

Verdigris-Bloody Creek Area (Dv)

A large area in the southeastern part of Chase County is drained in part by Verdigris River and in part by Bloody Creek. The dip of the rock strata is to the west and northwest; otherwise this area is essentially like the Elmdale area. Most wells are along the valleys of the tributary creeks and streams and are 30 to 50 feet deep, a few being as deep as 100 feet. Yields of wells are generally small and in many instances are inadequate for domestic or stock needs. This is especially true of the area southeast of Matfield Green where water-bearing rocks above the Cottonwood limestone furnish inadequate supplies of water to wells. In this area the Cottonwood limestone contains abundant water, but the water is too highly mineralized to be usable for stock or domestic supplies (Table 7, well 21-8-lSba).

Quality of water varies from good to poor in this area (Table 7).

Alluvial Floodplain Region (A)

The alluvial floodplain deposits of Cottonwood River and its principal tributaries contain large quantities of hard but otherwise good water. The thickness of the alluvium ranges from a few feet to a maximum of 55 or 60 feet in the Cottonwood River valley and is as much as 25 to 40 feet thick in the principal tributaries (Fig. 3).

Wells properly constructed in the areas of maximum thickness of alluvium are capable of yielding 75 to 200 gallons of water per minute without excessive drawdown. Correspondingly smaller supplies are available from the alluvial deposits of the smaller tributaries. The municipal supplies of Strong City and Cottonwood Falls are obtained from wells in alluvium of the Cottonwood River valley (P1. 3).

Alluvial Terrace Region (T)

Alluvial terrace deposits occur along the valleys of the principal streams as deposits of unconsolidated sediments similar in character to but higher in altitude than the alluvial floodplain deposits. Because they are above stream level, only a small part of the terrace deposits shown on Plate 3 are sufficiently thick and undissected to contain a permanent zone of saturation. The parts of the terraces that do contain a permanent zone of saturation yield small to moderate quantities of good water to wells (Table 7).

Because of the position of terraces above the floodplains of the principal streams, many of the wells penetrate unsaturated terrace material and are dug or drilled into the underlying Permian bedrock in order to obtain water from permeable saturated zones in the limestone or shale beds. Generally these wells are successful; possibly the terrace deposits, though not containing water themselves, aid in the recharge of the bedrock aquifers by absorbing water and feeding it into openings in the bedrock.

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  Kansas Geological Survey, Chase County Geohydrology
Comments to
Web version March 2001. Original publication date Aug. 1951.