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Osage County Geohydrology

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Part 3--Ground-water Resources of Osage County

by Howard G. O'Connor


Nearly all the rural population and about 70 percent of the total county population depend entirely or in part on ground water for domestic water supplies. A brief discussion of the general principles of the occurrence of ground water and data on the occurrence, quality, quantity, and availability of ground water in various parts of Osage County are given in this report. Information upon which this report is based was obtained from records of 171 wells, records of many drillers bogs, logs and samples of 15 test holes in Marais des Cygnes River Valley, Dragoon Creek Valley, and the Carbondale area, and chemical analyses of 33 samples of ground water (28 complete analyses and 5 chloride and nitrate analyses). General information was obtained from many residents concerning water-bearing formations, well yields, and quality of water in many areas of the county.

Jungmann Brothers, Lon Dietrich, and W.D. Wilson, water well drillers, were especially helpful in supplying information on wells that they had drilled in the area.

This investigation was made under the general direction of A.N. Sayre, chief of the Ground Water Branch of the United States Geological Survey, and under the immediate supervision of V.C. Fishel, district engineer of the Ground Water Branch in charge of the cooperative ground-water studies in Kansas.

Well-numbering System

The well and test-hole numbers used in this report give the location of wells and test holes according to the General Land Office surveys and according to the following formula: township, range, section, l60-acre tract within that section, and the 40-acre tract within that quarter section. If two or more wells are within a 40-acre tract, the wells are numbered serially according to the order in which they were inventoried. The 160-acre and 40-acre tracts are designated a, b, c, or d in a counterclockwise direction, beginning in the northeast quarter. For example, a well in the NW 1/4 NE 1/4 sec. 10, T. 16 S., R. 17 E., would be numbered 16-17-10ab.

Source, Occurrence, and Movement of Ground Water

The discussion of the occurrence of ground water in Osage County is based partly on the detailed treatment of the principles of occurrence of ground water by Meinzer (1923). A general discussion of the principles of ground-water occurrence, with special reference to Kansas, has been given by Moore and others (1940). The interested reader is referred to these publications for a more detailed discussion of the occurrence of ground water.

Ground water is the part of the water below the surface of the land that supplies water to wells and springs. It is derived largely from precipitation falling as rain or snow, some of which reaches the zone of saturation by percolation downward through the soil and subsoil.

The rocks in the outer crust of the earth's surface are not solid but contain many openings or voids that contain air, water, or other fluids. Generally, the rock formations below a certain level are saturated with water.

The upper surface of the zone of saturation is not a level surface, nor a static surface, but has many irregularities, which on a modified scale are generally similar to the irregularities of the surface topography. Normally, the small part of the precipitation that reaches the zone of saturation moves slowly toward the rivers and creeks or their tributaries and discharges into them or is lost by transpiration and evaporation in the valley areas.

Water in the zone of saturation available to wells in Osage County may occur unconfined or confined. Unconfined, or free, ground water is water in the zone of saturation that does not have a confining or impermeable body restricting its upper surface. The upper surface of unconfined water is called the water table. Shallow wells constructed in the near-surface weathered shale, limestone, and sandstone, the alluvial fill in stream valleys, and the colluvial slope deposits generally obtain unconfined ground water. Ground water is said to be confined if it occurs in permeable zones between relatively impermeable confining beds. Most of the deeper drilled wells constructed in the Pennsylvanian and Permian bedrock obtain confined ground water.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Web version April 2002. Original publication date May 1955.
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