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Geohydrology of Neosho County

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Ground-water Resources

Source, Occurrence, and Movement of Ground Water

The discussion of the occurrence of ground water in Neosho County is based partly on a detailed treatment by Meinzer (1923, 1923a). A general discussion of the principles of ground-water occurrence with special reference to Kansas has been given by Moore, et al. (1940).

Ground water is that water below the surface of the land in the zone of saturation. It is derived mainly from precipitation and reaches the zone of saturation by percolation downward through the soil and subsoil.

The rocks in the outer crust of the earth are not solid but contain many openings, or voids, that hold air, water, or other fluid. Generally, the rock formations below a certain level are saturated with water. The upper surface of the zone of saturation is neither a level surface nor a static surface, but one that has many irregularities, which are generally similar to the irregularities of the surface topography. Under natural conditions, the small part of the precipitation that reaches the zone of saturation moves slowly toward the streams and discharges into them or is lost by transpiration and evaporation in the valley areas.

Water in the zone of saturation, available to wells, may be confined or unconfined. Unconfined or free ground water does not have a confining or impermeable body restricting its upper surface. The upper surface of unconfined ground water is called the water table. The water in weathered limestone, sandstone, and shale, the alluvial deposits in Neosho River valley and other stream valleys, and colluvial slope deposits is unconfined in most localities. Ground water is said to be confined or artesian if it occurs in permeable zones between relatively impermeable beds that confine the water under pressure. Most of the wells constructed in the unweathered Pennsylvanian bedrock of Neosho County tap confined ground water.

Ground-water Recharge and Discharge

The addition of water to natural underground reservoirs is called recharge and may be effected in several ways. The most important source of recharge is local precipitation and this is the major source of recharge for weathered bedrock aquifers in the upland areas of Neosho County. Lesser amounts are contributed to these aquifers by influent seepage from streams and ponds and by subsurface inflow from adjacent areas. Locally, influent seepage from streams may contribute an important amount of recharge to adjacent alluvial deposits and to the bedrock aquifers where streams cut across permeable zones.

However, in the Neosho River valley the gradient of the water table, as indicated by water levels in test holes (Fig. 5). is toward the river. Therefore, it is unlikely that any recharge reaches the Wisconsinan and Recent deposits of the valley from the river except during periods of flooding.

Although no data on amounts are available, some recharge must be taking place in the Chanute Shale from the alluvial deposits or from the Neosho River in the area northeast of Chanute where Wisconsinan alluvium overlies northwestward-dipping sandstone beds in the Chanute Shale.

Recharge is seasonal in the Midwest. Generally the water levels of wells are lowered by natural drainage into streams during the winter, when the soil is frozen and precipitation is slight. During the spring precipitation is relatively abundant, temperature is moderately cool, and transpiration and evaporation are low, which results in the greatest amount of recharge during the year. Recharge may occur during other seasons whenever precipitation is sufficient to overcome the soil-moisture deficiency of a preceding dry period.

Ground water moves downward under the influence of gravity through the permeable rocks, in accordance with their character and structure, to points of lower elevation. It may discharge directly into a stream as a spring or seep or it may be discharged by evaporation or transpiration where the water table is near the surface. A part of the ground water is discharged from wells, but this amount is small in Neosho County compared with that discharged by other means.

Under natural conditions, over a long period of time, approximate equilibrium exists between the amount of water that is added annually to ground-water storage and the amount that is discharged annually.

Chemical Character of Ground Water

Various gases and minerals are taken into solution by water as it is precipitated and as it percolates through the rocks of the earth's crust. The type and quantity of impurities in ground water may be determined by chemical analysis. The corrosiveness, encrusting tendency, palatability, and other properties can be predicted from the results of a quantitative analysis of the water.

Analyses of 42 water samples from wells in Neosho County are shown in Table 1. Mineral concentrations are given in parts per million (ppm).

The samples of water from wells in Neosho County were analyzed by Howard A. Stoltenberg, Chief Chemist, in the Sanitary Engineering Laboratory of the Kansas State Department of Health. The analyses indicate only the dissolved mineral content of the water and do not indicate the bacteriological content.

Table 1--Analyses of water from selected wells in Neosho County, Kansas (in parts per million, except as otherwise indicated). One part per million is equivalent to one pound of substance per million pounds of water or 8.33 pounds per million gallons of water. (Samples analyzed by H. A. Stoltenberg)

Date of
of well,
Geologic source Temp.
(Na + K)
at 180° C)
Hardness as CaCO3 Specific
at 25° C)
Carbonate Non-
27-17-1dc 10-9-1961 53 Chanute Shale 64 17 0.16 51 18 108 439 36 24 1.1 1.5 473 201 0 820
27-17-11ad 10-10-1961 46.8 Iola Limestone   14 .04 149 29 125 405 98 165 .1 120 900 332 159 1.600
27-17-36bb 10-9-1961 180 Chanute Shale   10 .03 16 8.8 132 381 2.0 31 .7 3.1 391 76 0 690
27-18-24cc 10-9-1961 44.1 Chanute Shale   28 .02 33 10 22 81 9.1 29 .3 66 237 66 58 400
27-19-6da 8-30-1962 18.7 Chanute Shale 68 13 .36 397 248 234 498 1,560 210 .5 235 3,143 408 1,602 3,920
27-19-9da 8-29-1962 17.7 Chanute Shale 62 13 .58 186 28 135 427 145 169 .2 133 1,019 579 229 1,710
27-19-27bb 10-9-1961 75.8 Swope Limestone 61.5 10 .62 47 18 444 437 28 540 2.2 1.0 1,305 191 0 2,470
27-19-30cd2 12-28-1960 105 Galesburg Shale   9.0 1.3 72 61 979 464 131 1,440 4.0 .4 2,925 380 50 5,580
27-20-9dc 12-28-1960 150.6 Swope Limestone   4.5 .07 22 17 821 527 18 1,020 8.0 .9 2,171 125 0 4,130
27-20-31ad 10-10-1961 125 Swope Limestone 62 11 2.3 50 36 114 407 102 53 2.0 3.1 571 273 0 1,000
27-21-8cc 10-9-1961 91.3 Dennis Limestone 61 12 .43 123 31 32 383 102 27 .2 58 574 314 120 970
28-18-4cd 8-29-1962 60 Dennis Limestone 64 16 .18 184 87 565 334 28 1,250 1.4 4.4 2,300 274 542 4,390
28-18-20ad1 12-28-1960 145 Dennis Limestone   12 .10 453 222 260 578 2,000 32 .7 9.3 3,274 474 1,568 3,900
28-18-27aa 8-29-1962 16.8 Chanute Shale   18 .07 36 21 38 149 111 5 .5 6.5 309 122 54 520
28-10-1ba 10-9-1961 122.4 Dennis Limestone 63 14 1.3 51 29 55 383 19 18 .5 5.8 381 246 0 680
28-10-7cd 12-28-1960 106 Swope Limestone   12 .03 87 45 78 432 27 62 .5 124 648 354 48 1,090
28-10-14cd 10-9-1961 48 Wisconsinan alluvium   15 .01 125 8.3 17 386 24 14 .1 28 421 316 30 730
28-20-9da 12-28-1960 100.0 Tacket Formation   8.0 .01 78 25 114 407 116 57 .7 11 610 298 0 1,090
28-20-24ad 10-10-1961 35 Tacket Formation 59 5.0 .18 237 25 71 429 210 106 .1 159 1,024 352 342 1,730
28-20-30ca 8-29-1961 20 Wisconsinan alluvium   16 .01 175 22 92 403 147 129 .1 71 851 330 197 1,430
28-21-5bb1 10-9-1961 27.2 Tacket Formation 60.5 11 .24 78 58 114 498 23 111 .1 115 755 408 25 1,390
28-21-29aa 12-28-1960 54 Bandera Shale   10 .08 148 50 46 400 35 61 0 279 826 328 246 1,270
28-21-34dd 10-10-1961 23.1 Bandera Shale 65 12 .27 331 92 403 373 860 345 .4 487 2,714 306 898 4,050
29-17-13cc 10-10-1961 25.5 Chanute Shale   21 1.4 227 83 111 429 748 10 0.3 4.2 1,415 352 556 1,900
29-18-20ac 10-10-1961 14.9 Chanute Shale   15 3.8 483 265 635 259 1,416 1,115 .5 518 4,575 212 2,082 6,890
29-18-35dc 10-10-1961 137.5 Galesburg Shale   8.5 .02 8 2.0 366 634 57 165 4.0 1.5 924 28 0 1,660
29-19-3ca 8-29-1962 104.5 Dennis Limestone 61 13 .13 121 12 16 395 46 12 .1 .4 415 324 28 720
29-19-7dc 12-28-1960 105 Dennis Limestone   17 .65 129 102 79 450 502 12 .6 3.8 1,067 369 372 1,560
29-19-30bb 10-10-1961 81.4 Dennis Limestone   11 .12 179 61 107 395 325 71 .2 208 1,157 324 373 1,780
29-20-1dd 10-10-1961 27.4 Nowata Shale   12 .02 82 26 50 459 4.9 25 .2 3.1 429 312 0 780
29-20-20cc 12-28-1960 20 Hertha Limestone   13 .70 182 24 26 210 158 77 .4 204 788 172 380 1,230
29-21-32dd 8-29-1962 20 Wisconsinan alluvium 64 16 5.9 89 8.8 20 307 46 7.0 .2 .4 338 252 6 570
30-17-2dd 8-30-1962 240 Chanute Shale,
Galesburg Shale
  17 .09 232 102 182 407 875 84 1.1 49 1,742 334 664 2,350
30-18-20ab1 12-28-1960 296 Tacket Formation   9 .24 70 16 184 233 99 163 1.1 142 799 191 49 1,330
30-19-1da 8-30-1962 28.9 Hertha Limestone 60 15 2.3 140 58 75 256 318 50 .4 150 933 210 378 1,410
30-19-4bb2 12-28-1960 65.0 Swope Limestone   9.5 5.6 201 19 93 295 234 89 .3 212 1,003 242 338 1,510
30-19-19bb 10-10-1961 71.5 Galesburg Shale 61.5 15 .91 636 206 332 266 1,218 430 .5 1,319 4,288 218 2,216 6,040
30-19-24bb 8-30-1962 100 Tacket Formation 63 13 .79 111 117 785 730 492 910 1.3 89 2,878 598 160 4,390
30-19-35bb 8-30-1962 66.0 Bandera Shale 63 12 .94 125 50 115 425 360 36 .5 .4 908 348 170 1,390
30-20-13ac 12-28-1960 108.6 Bandera Shale   6 2.6 250 29 68 278 138 160 .4 363 1,151 228 515 1,920
30-20-22dd 8-30-1962 21.6 Nowata Shale 63 11 .04 175 43 99 415 237 90 .3 137 997 340 273 1,610
30-21-22cd 12-28-1960 60 Bandera Shale   9.5 .24 113 12 72 287 48 58 .1 150 604 236 96 960

Chemical Constituents in Relation to Use

The following discussion of the chemical constituents of ground water has been adapted in part from publications of the U. S. Geological Survey, the State Geological Survey of Kansas, and the U. S. Public Health Service.

Dissolved Solids

When water is evaporated, the residue consists mainly of mineral constituents, but it may also include small quantities of organic matter and some water of crystallization. Water containing less than 500 ppm (parts per million) of dissolved solids is generally suitable for domestic use except for difficulties that may result from hardness or excessive iron or manganese. Water containing more than 1,000 ppm of dissolved solids is likely to have enough of certain constituents to impart a noticeable taste or otherwise render the water unsuitable or undesirable for use.


The hardness of water is most commonly recognized by the scum or curd formed when soap is used with the water. Salts of calcium and magnesium cause nearly all the hardness of ordinary water. These salts also cause scale in steam boilers or other containers in which water is heated or evaporated. The total hardness of a water may generally be divided into carbonate hardness and noncarbonate hardness. The carbonate hardness is due to calcium and magnesium carbonates and may be almost completely removed by boiling. This type of hardness is often called temporary hardness. The noncarbonate hardness is caused by the sulfates and chlorides of calcium and magnesium and cannot be removed by boiling. This type of hardness is often referred to as permanent hardness. There is no difference between carbonate and noncarbonate hardness in regard to the reaction with soap.

Water with a hardness of less than 60 ppm is generally considered soft and, ordinarily, treatment for removal of hardness is unnecessary. Hardness ranging from 60 ppm to 150 ppm does not interfere with the use of water in most situations, but it does increase the consumption of soap. Laundries and other industries using large quantities of soap may profitably soften such water. Hardness greater than 150 ppm can be noticed by almost anyone, and if the hardness is 200 ppm or greater, the water is generally softened before use. When municipal supplies are softened, an attempt is usually made to reduce the hardness to about 80 to 100 ppm. Further softening of a public supply is not considered worth the additional expense. For purposes of discussion in this report, water with hardness ranging from 0-60 ppm is considered soft; 61-120 ppm, moderately hard; 121-180, hard; and greater than 180 ppm, very hard.


The use of water containing an excessive amount of nitrate in the preparation of a baby's formula may cause methemoglobinemia in the child, a condition of the blood which results in cyanosis or oxygen starvation. Some authorities specify that water containing greater than 45 ppm of nitrate should not be used in formula preparation for infants under 3 months (Metzler and Stoltenberg, 1950). Water containing 90 ppm is generally considered dangerous to infants and water containing as much as 150 ppm may cause severe cyanosis. Cyanosis is not produced in older children and adults by the concentrations of nitrate ordinarily found in drinking water. Boiling of water containing excessive nitrate does not render it safe for use by infants. Rather, boiling reduces the volume of the water by evaporation and increases the concentration of nitrate in the water. Therefore, only water known to be free of excessive nitrate should be used for preparing infant formulas.

The nitrate content of water from some wells is somewhat seasonal, being highest in winter and lowest in summer. In general, water from wells that are susceptible to surface contamination is likely to be high in nitrate concentration.

Nitrate was found in concentrations greater than 45 ppm in 23 of the 42 water samples analyzed for this report.


Fluoride is present in ground water generally in only small quantities. A knowledge of the fluoride concentration is important because use of water containing greater than 1.5 ppm of fluoride by children during the period of formation of permanent teeth may result in mottling of the enamel. If the fluoride concentration is as much as 4.0 ppm, about 90 percent of children using the water may have mottled enamel (Dean, 1936).

Whereas too much fluoride may have a detrimental effect, moderate concentrations of fluoride (1.0-1.5 ppm) help to prevent tooth decay (Dean, et al., 1941). The U. S. Public Health Service has established 1.5 ppm as the maximum concentration of fluoride permissible in drinking water used on interstate carriers.


Chloride salts are very abundant in nature. Sea water and oil-field brines contain them in large quantities, and smaller amounts may be dissolved from rock materials by ground water. Water containing less than 250 ppm of chloride is satisfactory for most purposes. Water containing more than 250 ppm usually is objectionable for municipal supplies, while water containing more than 350 ppm can be unfit even for irrigation and industrial use. Water with as much as 500 ppm of chloride has a salty taste. However, cattle will often tolerate concentrations as high as 4,000 or 5,000 ppm. The removal of chloride is too difficult and costly to be economical for most water uses.


Next to hardness, iron is the constituent of natural waters that is generally most objectionable. The quantity of iron in the water may differ greatly, sometimes even in the same aquifer. If the water contains 0.3 ppm or more of iron in solution, the iron may settle out as a reddish sediment when the water is exposed to air. Iron at concentrations greater than about 0.3 ppm gives a disagreeable taste to water and stains laundry, cooking utensils, and plumbing fixtures. Iron can generally be removed by aeration and filtration, but some waters require chemical treatment for adequate removal of iron.

Manganese has the same effect as iron, except that the stain is black. Iron and manganese are considered together in evaluating the usefulness of water.


Sulfate in ground water is derived principally from gypsum and anhydrite (calcium sulfate), and from the oxidation of pyrite (iron disulfide). Magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) and sodium sulfate (glauber's salt), if present in concentrations greater than about 250 ppm, impart a bitter taste to water and have a laxative effect upon persons not accustomed to drinking it. More than 250 ppm of sulfate is considered undesirable.

Sanitary Considerations

The analyses of water given in Table 1 indicate only the amount of dissolved mineral matter in the water and do not show the bacteriological content of the water. However, high concentrations of certain constituents such as nitrates or chlorides may indicate pollution of the water.

No cities in Neosho County depend upon wells for their water supplies, but much of the rural population of the county rely upon private wells for water for domestic and stock use. Therefore, care should be taken to prevent pollution of these wells. Generally, wells should not be located downhill from such sources of pollution as barnyards, privies, septic tanks, or cesspools. Also, a well should be completely sealed at the top and around the casing to prevent contamination of the ground-water supply by dust, insects, vermin, debris, and surface water. Dug wells are relatively more vulnerable to contamination because the large diameters common among this type of well renders proper sealing more difficult.

Availability of Ground Water

In Neosho County fresh ground water is known to occur in consolidated rocks to a depth of nearly 300 feet and in unconsolidated rocks to a depth of 35 feet. The consolidated rock aquifers consist chiefly of limestones, shales, and sandstones of Pennsylvanian age. The sandstones constitute the most permeable consolidated rock aquifers.

The unconsolidated rock aquifers are alluvial deposits of silt, fine sand, and pebble-sized chert fragments of Pleistocene and Recent ages that occur in the stream valleys as valley fill and as low, highly dissected terraces.

Consolidated Rocks

Limestone and Shale Aquifers

The limestone and shale formations in the county possess a well-developed joint pattern which apparently persists at depth. Because of these joints and other fractures, yields of about 1 gpm may be obtained from wells to a depth of about 300 feet. Weathering processes have enlarged openings.along the joints, fractures, and bedding planes near the land surface. In these rocks, shallow dug or drilled wells may yield as much as 3 gpm. Dug wells, with a larger storage capacity, are generally more satisfactory than drilled wells in these aquifers.

The Bandera Shale is the oldest formation in the county from which fresh water is obtained. Well drillers report that water in rocks of the Pawnee Limestone and older Pennsylvanian rocks is highly mineralized and unfit for human or animal consumption.

Pre-Pennsylvanian Rocks

A well drilled in 1936 in SE SE sec. 13, T 29 S, R 20 E to a depth of 1,010 feet is reported to have produced highly mineralized, though potable, water from limestone of Mississippian age. The City of St. Paul used this well as a municipal supply for a short time in 1936 and 1937. In 1937, the static water level in this well was reportedly about 35 feet below the land surface. The well has subsequently been plugged, and no recent water-quality or water-level data are available.

The City of Walnut, Crawford County, Kansas, has a well 1,015 feet deep in SW SW sec. 20, T 28 S, R 22 E (about 3 miles east of the Neosho county line) which obtains water from a zone of saccharoidal dolomite and quartz sand informally called the "Swan Creek." The "Swan Creek," which is in the upper part of the Cotter Dolomite of Ordovician age, occurs in the interval between 990-1,010 feet in the well. Water from the overlying Mississippian and Pennsylvanian rocks, which contains high concentrations of chlorides and sulfates, is kept out of the well by steel casing that is cemented in place to a depth of 931 feet. In November 1964, the well was producing approximately 80 gpm. The chloride content of a water sample taken in 1956 soon after completion of the well was 570 ppm. Subsequent analyses performed in 1959 and 1964 have shown chloride concentrations of 640 ppm and 710 ppm, respectively. Although the water contains enough chloride to be objectionable, it is rendered usable by mixing it with water of much lower mineral content from shallow wells.

It is likely that wells penetrating the "Swan Creek" in Neosho County will encounter water with a much higher chloride content.

Tacket Formation

Wells obtaining water from the black shale of the Tacket Formation can generally be expected to yield at least 1 gpm. The highest yield reported from the Tacket is 1.5 gpm in wells 28-20-9da and 30-19-24bb. Water in sufficient quantity for domestic use is available from the Tacket to depths of 200 feet, as in wells 28-19-31cc and 30-17-35ab. In general, water of suitable quality for human consumption in quantities adequate for domestic use may be obtained from the Tacket throughout the county wherever the Formation outcrops (see Pl. 1) or wherever it may be penetrated at a depth of 200 feet or less (usually 5 to 8 miles west or northwest of the outcrop).

All wells except one (28-20-9da) obtaining water from the Formation that are 100 feet or more in depth reportedly yield water containing enough sodium chloride (more than 500 ppm) to have a discernibly salty taste. The quality of water in shallow dug wells penetrating the Tacket is reportedly suitable for human use.

The maximum yield of 1.5 gpm that can be expected from the Tacket indicates that it is not an aquifer that may be developed for irrigation, industrial, or municipal water supplies.

Swope Limestone

The Hushpuckney Shale Member of the Swope is one of the most productive shale aquifers in the county. Yields of 0.5 to 1.5 gpm may be expected from the black shale member in the area bounded on the east by the outcrop of the Swope Limestone and on the west by the west line of R 18 E (Pl. 1). Locally, yields from 2 to 5 gpm are obtainable from the Hushpuckney as indicated by wells 28-21-21bb and 30-19-6cd. Well drillers and well owners report that in most wells water enters the well bore throughout the full thickness of the black shale. However, in wells with relatively high yields such as 30-19-6cd (5 gpm) the water is encountered in the few inches of the shale just below the overlying Bethany Falls Limestone Member.

Water from wells in the Hushpuckney is generally of a quality suitable for domestic use, although very hard water is common. The sulfate concentration in water from this Member is generally low (less than 30 ppm), except for water from well 30-19-4bb2, which has a concentration of 234 ppm. This amount is still below the concentration of 250 ppm that the U. S. Public Health Service considers objectionable. Water slightly salty to the taste is reported in many wells penetrating the Hushpuckney at a depth of 75 feet or more, although water from well 30-18-25da2, which is 100 feet deep, reportedly has no detectable sodium chloride taste.

Dug or drilled wells penetrating the Bethany Falls Limestone Member of the Swope generally will yield 0.5 to 1.5 gpm of very hard water. The area in which these yields may be expected is bounded on the east by the outcrop of the base of the Swope Limestone and approximately on the west by the west line of R 19 E (Pl. 1).

The water from wells in the Bethany Falls is generally free from noticeable chloride concentrations. One well (27-20-7cb) reportedly yields some natural gas. This was the only well in the Bethany Falls found to yield gas and the condition is probably not common in the aquifer. The chemical quality of water from well 28-19-7cd (Table 1), except for the high nitrate concentration (124 ppm), is probably typical of water from the Swope Limestone.

Shallow dug and drilled wells obtaining water from the Bethany Falls and the Hushpuckney where the two members lie at or near the land surface have a tendency to go dry during periods of deficient rainfall. This dependency upon local rainfall for recharge, as well as the low yields common from the Hushpuckney and Bethany Falls, precludes the development of these two aquifers other than for small domestic or stock supplies.

Dennis Limestone

The Stark Shale Member of the Dennis Limestone is probably the most productive shale aquifer in the county. Dug or drilled wells penetrating the Stark generally yield from 0.3 to 4 gpm at or a few inches below the contact of the shale and the overlying Winterset Limestone. The marked variance in yields from wells in the shale is a reflection of local differences in permeability of the aquifer which, in turn, is directly related to the number of joints, cracks, and voids between bedding planes that are present in the shale. There seems to be no pattern to the occurrence of high or low yields throughout the area in which water is available from the Stark except that T 29 S, R 19 E (Centerville Township) appears to be an area in which as much as 4 gpm (well 29-19-1cd) may be generally available. Numerous small springs issue from this horizon at the outcrop of the Stark, which lies near the base of the Dennis Limestone, as shown on Plate 1.

The area in which water of usable quality is available from the Stark is bounded on the east by the base of the Dennis Limestone (Pl. 1) and approximately on the west by U. S. Highway 169. Near the western edge of this area slightly salty water is present locally in the shale as indicated by the analyses of water from well 28-18-4cd (1,250 ppm of chloride) and the report of brackish water in well 28-18-10abl. Hydrogen sulfide is commonly reported to be present in water from the Stark. Concentrations of sulfate greater than 250 ppm were found in 3 out of 5 water samples from the Stark (wells 28-18-20ad1, 29-19-7dc, and 29-19-30bb.). Indirect evidence of high sulfate concentrations, i. e. many reported instances of laxative effects on persons unaccustomed to drinking the water, indicates that excessive sulfate concentrations are common in water from the shale.

The upper, medium-bedded zone in the Winterset Limestone Member of the Dennis is the most productive limestone aquifer in Neosho County. Although most wells in the Winterset will reportedly yield from 0.2 to 1.0 gpm, locally yields as high as 2 or 3 gpm are possible (as in wells 27-19-24ba and 27-18-29cb, respectively). Nearly all wells (11 out of 13) found to be yielding water from the Winterset in usable quantities lie in the northern tier of townships in the county, i. e., T 27 S, R 18, 19, 20, and 21 E. Wells 28-19-1ba and 30-18-20ab2 both have reported yields of less than 1 gpm. Undoubtedly shallow dug or drilled wells located elsewhere in the county where the Winterset crops out or is near the land surface (Pl. 1) may obtain small amounts of water from the limestone especially during periods of ample rainfall.

Water from the Winterset is generally of good quality although reportedly very hard in most wells. Samples from two wells penetrating the Member were higher than 200 ppm total hardness (27-21-8cc and 28-19-1ba, Table 1). The iron concentrations in these samples were 0.43 ppm and 1.3 ppm respectively, both of which are greater than the 0.3 ppm considered objectionable by the U. S. Public Health Service.

The low yields obtainable from the Winterset and the Stark preclude their development as a supply other than for domestic needs.

Sandstone Aquifers

Bandera Shale

The Bandera Shale in Neosho County will yield 0.5 to 5 gpm from wells located in the area bounded on the north by the north line of T 28 S, R 21 E, on the east by the Crawford county line, on the south by the Labette county line, and on the west by the west lines of T 30 S, R 20 E, T 29 S, R 20 E, and T 28 S, R 21 E. Drillers report that water from the Bandera in other parts of the county is generally too highly mineralized to be used. Most wells in the Bandera in this area obtain water from sandstone beds in the middle of the formation. In local areas, some water is available from the sandy shale and clay shale in the upper part of the Bandera, i. e., wells 28-21-29aa and 28-21-29da. As much as 5 gpm is available from wells in T 30 S in the area between Labette Creek and the Crawford county line as indicated by wells 30-19-35bb and 30-21-22cd, which reportedly yield 5 gpm and 4 gpm respectively. The relatively high potential yield in this area is probably a reflection of the greater thickness of the sand bodies in the middle of the Bandera.

The quality of water from the formation is generally good, except that it is commonly very hard. Iron concentrations in 4 out of 5 water samples were greater or only slightly less than the 0.3 ppm considered objectionable. The nitrate content of all the samples except one (from well 30-19-35bb, Table 1) exceeds the limit recommended by the Public Health Service. There are insufficient data to determine if the high nitrate concentration is characteristic of water from the Bandera or merely isolated occurrences caused by local conditions.

The limited yields available from wells in the Bandera indicate that development of the aquifer for other than domestic and stock use is infeasible.

Nowata Shale

In southeastern Neosho County shallow wells dug or drilled into the Nowata Shale may produce as much as 1 gpm, although yields are generally less. In general, the Nowata yields usable quantities of water only from wells near the outcrop in areas where the formation is predominantly a sandy shale, such as south of the central part of T 28 S.

Analyses of samples from wells 29-20-1dd and 30-20-22dd (Table 1) indicate that water from the Nowata is of good quality although very hard. The relatively high concentrations of sulfate (237 ppm) and nitrate (137 ppm) in the sample from well 30-20-22dd may only reflect local conditions, such as contamination by surface water.

The fact that few wells yield water from the Nowata coupled with the reportedly low yields available from the two wells inventoried (0.3 gpm from well 29-20-1dd and 1.0 gpm from well 30-20-22dd) indicate that the formation is not a reliable aquifer for even domestic or stock supplies.

Hepler Sandstone Member

Shallow dug or drilled wells penetrating the Hepler Sandstone Member near its outcrop in the northern part of the county (Pl. 1) may yield 1 gpm or less of potable water. Because of the lateral variations in lithology and thickness of the Member it yields water only locally. Only two wells, 28-21-5bb1 and 28-21-5bb2, were inventoried that are definitely known to obtain water from the Hepler.

The quality of water from well 28-21-5bb1 (Table 1) is probably representative of water from the Hepler. However, the excessive nitrate content (111 ppm) may only reflect local conditions.

The low yields available from the Hepler coupled with the somewhat local occurrence of ground water in the Member makes it unsuitable generally for development of even domestic and stock supplies.

Galesburg Shale

Wells penetrating the sandy shale and sandstone of the Galesburg Shale may be expected to yield from 0.5 to 2 gpm of potable water in the area bounded on the east by the outcrop of the base of the formation (located from a few tens of feet to a few hundred feet west of the outcrop of the Swope Limestone as shown on Pl. 1) and on the west by a line approximately parallel to and about 5 miles west of the outcrop of the overlying Dennis Limestone. A few small springs occur on the outcrop of the formation in the central portion of the county and at least one, 28-20-9da, has been enlarged and developed for a domestic water supply. In general, wells in the northern and southern portions of the county obtain water from the Dodds Creek Sandstone Member at the base of the formation, whereas wells in the central part of the county, especially T 29 S, R 19 E, yield water from sandy shale in the middle and upper part of the Galesburg.

High fluoride concentrations are apparently common in water from the Galesburg--3 out of 4 samples contained greater than 1.0 ppm and 2 of these 3 (27-19-30cd2 and 29-18-35dc) had concentrations of 4.0 ppm fluoride (Table 1). Nitrates in the two wells mentioned above were quite low, 0.4 ppm and 1.5 ppm respectively. However, the concentration in the sample from well 30-17-2dd was 49 ppm which is above that deemed objectionable by the Public Health Service. The nitrate content of the water from well 30-19-19bb was 1,319 ppm, which is more than two and one-half times higher than the nitrate content of any other sample analyzed (Table 1). This extremely high concentration is thought to be the result of some type of contamination by decaying vegetation or animal waste and cannot be considered representative of water from the Galesburg.

The low yields reported from wells penetrating the Galesburg indicate that it is unsuitable for development other than for domestic and stock supplies.

Chanute Shale

The Chanute Shale is the most productive consolidated-rock aquifer in the county. Two sandstone members, the Noxie at the base of the formation and the Cottage Grove at the top, yield 0.5 to 15 gpm of potable water to wells in the western quarter of the county.

East of Chanute, where the Noxie Sandstone Member overlies the Winterset Limestone Member of the Dennis Limestone or, locally, fills a channel eroded into the Dennis, yields up to 4 gpm (as in well 27-18-24cc) may be expected. West and south of Chanute and beneath the city itself, the Cottage Grove and Noxie Sandstone members are in contact or are separated only by a thin clay-shale zone. The sand composing the two members was apparently deposited in the deepest part of the channel described previously (see discussion of the stratigraphy of the Chanute Shale and Fig. 4). Wells penetrating the combined thicknesses of the two members in this area locally encounter as much as 110 feet of saturated, fine-grained sandstone. Some wells, such as 27-18-20ad, that obtain water from this sandstone reportedly yield as much as 10 gpm. In general, yields of 0.5 to 4 gpm may be expected. Permeability tests conducted under laboratory conditions upon core samples of the sandstones indicate that as much as 75 gpm may be obtained locally from properly developed wells (O. S. Fent, Hydraulic Drilling Co., Salina, Kansas, personal communication, 1965). South of the area underlain by the channel sandstone, in T 29 S, R 17 E, and T 30 S. R 17 E, yields as great as 15 gpm, as in well 29-17-24bd2, may be encountered.

The quality of water from wells in the Chanute is generally good, although the water-sample analyses (Table 1) showed very hard water to be common. Chloride content high enough to be objectionable (1,115 ppm) was found only in the sample from well 29-18-20ac. In five out of eight samples analyzed the chloride concentration was less than 40 ppm. Sulfate concentrations in three samples were greater than 700 ppm, but sulfates in the other samples were well below the 250 ppm considered objectionable. No physiological effects attributable to high sulfate concentrations were reported for other wells penetrating the Chanute. Nitrate content of the eight samples ranged from 1.5 to 518 ppm and was greater than 45 ppm in samples from four wells. Hydrogen sulfide gas, common in the bedrock aquifers in the county, was reported present in only one well yielding water from the Chanute. This well (30-17-2dd) penetrates both the Chanute and Galesburg shales. As the hydrogen sulfide is reportedly noticeable only after extended periods of pumping at about 2 gpm, it is probable that the gas is entering the well from the sandstone in the Galesburg.

In general, water from the sandstone beds in the Chanute contains lower concentrations of chlorides, sulfates, and nitrates than does water from sandstone and limestone aquifers stratigraphically lower than the Chanute.

In view of the 75 gpm that may be available, as reported by Fent, and the yields of as much as 15 gpm reported by well owners, it is possible that small industrial or municipal supplies may be developed in the Chanute. Any attempt to develop such supplies should, of course, be preceded by test drilling and pumping tests.

Other Aquifers

In addition to the limestone and shale aquifers discussed above, the well inventories showed that small amounts of water of usable quality are available locally from the Altamont, Lenapah, Hertha, and Iola limestones as well as from the Ladore and Cherryvale shales. These formations generally do not yield water in sufficient quantities for other than domestic and stock supplies.

Unconsolidated Rocks

Neosho River Valley

Although few wells exist in the Neosho River valley, this should not be construed as an indication that little water is available in the valley. Rather, it reflects a cultural adjustment to the danger of flood damage present in the valley, i.e., few landowners or tenants maintain homes in the valley and consequently few water-supply wells exist.

Illinoisan Terrace Deposits

No privately owned wells in the county that yielded water from the terrace deposits of Illinoisan age were inventoried. However, one test well (27-18-9bb), drilled in July of 1964, is probably representative of wells that may be developed in the terrace deposits. This well penetrated 30 feet of unconsolidated material, the lower 10.5 feet of which consisted of fine to coarse, rounded, chert gravel, and fine to coarse sand with about 10 percent of the material composed of silt and clay. The well yielded 20 gpm during a pumping period of 30 minutes with a total drawdown of 11.3 feet. The fact that the drawdown produced by a pumping rate of 20 gpm was more than 60 percent of the saturated thickness of the aquifer may indicate that a reduced pumping rate is necessary to obtain a sustained yield from wells in these deposits. A pumping rate of about 10 gpm is probably the maximum possible over an extended period from single wells in the terrace deposits.

Wisconsinan and Recent Alluvium

Four wells obtaining water from Wisconsinan gravel deposits were inventoried in Neosho County. The minimum yield reported from these wells was 3 gpm (well 28-20-30ca) and the maximum yield was 8 gpm (well 29-20-3ab). Analyses of water samples from two of these wells, 28-20-30ca and 29-21-32dd (Table 1), indicate that water in the Wisconsinan deposits is generally of good quality. The excessive nitrate (71 ppm) in the sample from well 28-20-30ca renders the water dangerous for infants, but the concentrations of other ions in the water are well below those considered objectionable by the Public Health Service.

One test hole (29-20-15ad) drilled in the valley west of St. Paul in July of 1964 contained 4.5 feet of medium to coarse chert gravel in the interval from 20 to 24.5 feet. Total depth of the well was 25 feet with the bottom 0.5 foot penetrating light-gray Holdenville Shale. After installation of torch-perforated steel casing, the well was pumped for one hour at 20 gpm. Total drawdown at the end of the hour was 0.6 foot. In view of the performance of this well, it is likely that other properly developed wells on the flood plain (Pl. 1) penetrating sand and gravel deposits of similar lithology and thickness at the base of the Wisconsinan alluvium would yield comparable quantities of water. It is possible that properly developed wells in deposits of this type may yield as much as 50 gpm in local areas. As the saturated thickness of the material (that part of the deposit that lies below the water table) is generally about 10 feet during periods of normal rainfall, the available drawn down in wells and consequently the yields would vary with time. During periods of deficient rainfall, for example, it is quite likely that the water table would drop and as a result the available drawdown and yields would decrease.

In summary, it seems probable that 10 gpm is the maximum yield that may be expected from the Illinoisan terrace deposits for extended pumping periods. Yields of as much as 30 gpm are probably available for long periods of time from properly constructed and developed wells in the Wisconsinan alluvium. Wells producing as much as 50 gpm may be adversely affected by slight lowering of the water table and can be expected to decrease in yield over an extended pumping period.

Other Stream Valleys

The valleys of the smaller streams that are tributaries to the Neosho or Verdigris rivers contain alluvium of Pleistocene and Recent ages. These deposits are composed predominantly of very fine-grained material, but locally lenses of sand and chert pebbles are present in the basal part. The thickness of the alluvium ranges from 0 to as much as 30 feet.

Few wells obtain water from these deposits, but as much as 1 gpm is probably available everywhere the alluvium is more than 10 feet thick. One well (28-19-14cd) drilled into the alluvium of Canville Creek reportedly yields as much as 30 gpm for extended periods of time. The water from this well is of good quality (Table 1), although very hard (346 ppm total hardness), and is probably representative of water available from the alluvial deposits in the smaller valleys.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web April 17, 2009; originally published December 1966.
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