Grant, Haskell, and Stevens County Geohydrology

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General Geology

Ground Water

Geologic Formations

Well Records

Well Logs




Ground Water, continued

Permeability of Water-bearing Materials

The rate of movement of ground water is determined by the size, shape, quantity, and degree of interconnection of the interstices and by the hydraulic gradient. The capacity of a water-bearing material for transmitting water under hydraulic head is its permeability. The coefficient of permeability may be expressed as the rate of flow of water, in gallons a day, through a cross-sectional area of 1 square foot under hydraulic gradient of 100 percent at a temperature of 60 deg. F. (Meinzer's coefficient; see Stearns, 1927, p. 148.) The coefficient of transmissibility is a similar measure and may be defined as the number of gallons of water a day transmitted through each 1-foot strip extending the height of the aquifer under a unit-gradient (Theis, 1935, p. 520). The coefficient of transmissibility may also be expressed as the number of gallons of water a day transmitted through each section 1 mile wide extending the height of the aquifer, under a hydraulic gradient of 1 foot to the mile.

The coefficient of transmissibility is equivalent to the coefficient of permeability (corrected for temperature) multiplied by the thickness of the aquifer.

The coefficient of permeability of water-bearing materials can be determined in the laboratory (methods summarized by V.C. Fishel in Wenzel, 1942, pp. 56-58) or in the field. Pumping tests were made in Grant and Stevens Counties between June 1, 1941, and October 1, 1942, by Melvin S. Scanlan of the Division of Water Resources of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture and Woodrow W. Wilson of the Federal Geological Survey. Discharge measurements were made using a Collins flow meter (Pl. 8) and measurements of drawdown and recovery were made using a steel tape or an electrical measuring device, or both.

Theis (1935) has shown that to the extent that Darcy's law governs the motion of ground water under natural conditions and under the artificial conditions caused by pumping, an analogy exists between hydrologic conditions in an aquifer and thermal conditions in a similar thermal system. Darcy's law is analogous to the law of the flow of heat by conduction, hydraulic pressure being analogous to temperature hydraulic gradient to thermal gradient, permeability to thermal conductivity, and specific yield to specific heat. From his equation expressing the relation between the draw-down and the rate and duration of discharge of a well, Theis developed the following recovery formula for determining the transmissibility of an aquifer (as defined above):

T = (264q / s) log10(t / t1)

in which T = coefficient of transmissibility
q = pumping rate, in gallons a minute
t = time since pumping began, in minutes
t1 = time since pumping stopped, in minutes
s = residual drawdown at the pumped well, in feet at time t1

The residual drawdown (s) is computed by subtracting the static water-level measurement (Table 5) from water-level measurements made after pumping stops (Fig. 9). The proper ratio

log10(t / t1) / s

is determined graphically by plotting log10(t / t1) against corresponding values of s (Fig. 9). This procedure is simplified by plotting t / t1 on the logarithmic coordinate of semi-logarithmic paper. For any convenient value of log10(t/t1), the corresponding value of s may be found by inspection, provided the curve passes through the origin. If the curve does not pass through the origin, it can be made to do so approximately by applying an empirical correction to the 264 formula as follows:

T = (264q / s) log10[(t +/- c) / t1]

in which c is a correction factor (Wenzel, 1942, p. 127). Only one (well 115) of the curves for tests in Grant and Stevens Counties passed through the origin. The correction factors needed to make the other curves pass through the origin ranged from -185 to +147.

Figure 9--(A) Recovery curve for well 115. (B) Curve for pumping test on well 115 obtained by plotting s against t/t1.

data presented on table 5

The weighted average discharge (q) of well 115 was 680 gallons a minute (Table 5). When values for s, (t / t1), and q are substituted in the Theis recovery formula, the coefficient of transmissibility of the water-bearing material at the pumped well is found to be 43,573. Dividing the coefficient of transmissibility by the average thickness of the saturated water-bearing material in the vicinity of the well, 295 feet, the average coefficient of permeability is found to be about 148. (The temperature of the water was 60 deg. F., hence no temperature correction is needed.) Data on seven pumping tests in Grant and Stevens Counties are listed in Table 6.

Table 5--Data on pumping test of well 115, Grant County, made on September 25, 1942, by Melvin Scanlan, Woodrow W. Wilson, and Thad G. McLaughlin.

Time since t / t1 Yields
a minute)
Depth to
water level
        116.36   Static
water level.
Pump started
6     652 139.59 23.23  
36     557 139.47 23.11  
66     536 140.1 23.74  
96     768 140.06 23.7  
126     746 140 23.64  
156     756 139.65 23.29  
186     750 139.59 23.23  
194           Pump stopped
195.5 1.5 130.3   123 6.64  
197 3 65.67   122.35 5.99  
200 6 33.33   123.76 7.4  
202 8 25.25   123.5 7.14  
204 10 20.4   122.4 6.04  
206 12 17.17   121.96 5.6  
208 14 14.86   121.51 5.15  
212 18 11.78   121.04 4.68  
216 22 9.82   120.59 4.23  
221 27 8.19   120.2 3.84  
226 32 7.06   119.85 3.49  
231 37 6.24   119.63 3.27  
236 42 5.62   119.43 3.07  
246 52 4.73   119.1 2.74  
263 69 3.81   118.7 2.34  
276 82 3.37   118.51 2.15  
306 112 2.73   118.15 1.79  
336 142 2.37   118.01 1.65  
366 172 2.13   117.87 1.51  

The irrigation wells listed in Table 6 obtain water primarily from the Rexroad (?) formation but also from the lower part of the Meade formation. As indicated by the pumping tests, these deposits have low to moderate permeabilities, but because of the great thickness of saturated material the coefficient of transmissibility generally is large. Some wells, such as 299, penetrated deposits consisting primarily of silt, whereas wells 244 and 247 encountered thick deposits of sand and gravel. Two of the wells listed in Table 6 (30 and 56) penetrated the entire thickness of saturated material above the Cretaceous deposits.

Table 6--Results of pumping tests in Grant and Stevens Counties.

Well No. Water-bearing formations Discharge (gallons a minute) Drawdown (feet) Duration of pumping (minutes) Specific capacity (a) Coefficient of transmissibility Approximate thickness of water-bearing material (feet) Coefficient of permeability (b)
30 Rexroad (?) and Meade 1,122 23.03 199 48.7 53,954 247 218
56 Rexroad (?) and Meade 871 34.24 199 25.4 23,600 245 96
92 Rexroad (?) and Meade 456 22.8 183 20 4,485 350 13
115 Rexroad (?) and/or Meade 680 23.43 194 29 43,573 295 148
244 Rexroad (?) and Meade 1,086 12.54 218 86.6 147,028 295 498
247 Rexroad (?) and Meade 1,324 14.31 207 92.5 88,412 290 305
299 Rexroad (?) and Meade 551 82.8 319 6.7 3,853 480 8
(a) The specific capacity of a well is its rate of yield per unit of drawdown and is determined by dividing the test capacity in gallons a minute by the drawdown in feet.

(b) Coefficient of transmissibility divided by thickness of saturated water-bearing material; temperature of water 60 deg. F., hence no correction for temperature is needed.

Artesian Conditions

The head of water has been defined as the height that a column of water will rise in a tightly cased well which has no discharge. Ground water that rises in wells to a level above that at which the water is encountered is said to be artesian or "piestic" (Meinzer and Wenzel, 1942, p. 451).

The Rexroad (?) formation in places contains beds of saturated sand and gravel in which the ground water is confined by overlying beds of clay which are relatively impermeable. Wells drilled to these water-bearing beds encounter water under artesian head, and in Lakin Draw and North Fork Cimarron Valley the head is sufficient to cause a few of them to flow. Artesian water has been en-countered in many wells in Grant, Haskell, and Stevens Counties, but the water generally is not under sufficient head to flow at the surface.

The only flowing wells in this area are near Ulysses. Well 47 encountered artesian water at a depth of about 160 feet, and in 1943 it had a measured yield of 1.25 gallons a minute. A feebly flowing well about 2 miles southeast of Ulysses in North Fork Cimarron Valley was reported to be 220 feet deep.

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  Kansas Geological Survey, Grant, Haskell, and Stevens Geohydrology
Comments to
Web version May 2002. Original publication date July 1946.