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Geohydrology of Neosho County

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Utilization of Ground Water

In Neosho County, the chief use of ground water is for domestic and stock purposes. It is estimated that in 1961 about 300,000 gpd (gallons per day) were obtained from wells and springs. The total 1961 use is estimated at 109 million gallons or about 334 acre-feet.

No cities or towns in Neosho County utilize ground water for their municipal supply. All public supplies in the county are obtained from surface-water sources. However, some residents of the municipalities with public supplies use private wells to supplement their water supply when surface-water sources are deficient.

Use of ground water for industrial purposes is limited to wells used by service stations for car-washing facilities. No irrigation projects that use ground water are known in Neosho County.


In Neosho County the rocks above the Precambrian basement complex have an average thickness of about 2,100 feet and all are of sedimentary origin. Rocks of Cambrian, Ordovician, Devonian(?), Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, Tertiary, and Quaternary ages are present. The exposed Pennsylvanian, Tertiary, and Quaternary rocks are nearly 700 feet thick.

The dominant regional structure is the Prairie Plains Monocline, chiefly post-Permian in age, which imparts to the outcropping Pennsylvanian rocks a northwestward dip of about 20 feet per mile. Locally, the dip is as much as 40 feet per mile to the northwest.

Fresh water is obtained from wells as deep as 300 feet in consolidated rock aquifers, but most wells in the county are less than 100 feet deep. Most wells in the county are drilled wells, but large-diameter dug wells are common in the low-yielding limestone and shale aquifers; driven wells are the usual type found in the stream valleys.

In general, sandstone aquifers in the Bandera, Galesburg, and Chanute shales are more productive than limestone or shale aquifers. Yields range from less than 30 gallons per hour in some of the limestone and shale aquifers to slightly more than 15 gpm in the sandstone aquifers. The highest reported yields were from wells obtaining water from the Noxie and Cottage Grove sandstone members of the Chanute Shale.

Yields of as much as 30 gpm are reported from unconsolidated rocks of Wisconsinan age in the valley of Canville Creek. Test drilling and a short-term pumping test of a well penetrating Wisconsinan deposits in the Neosho River valley indicate that as much as 50 gpm may be available locally from wells completed in the sand and gravel at the base of the Wisconsinan material.

Water from most wells in the area is highly mineralized. However, water from the sandstone and unconsolidated rock aquifers tends to be softer and generally of better quality than that from limestone and shale aquifers. Nitrate concentration greater than 45 ppm was found in 23 of 42 water samples analyzed for this report. In view of the common occurrence of high-nitrate water and the hazard that such water poses for infants, it is advisable that water for domestic use be analyzed to determine the nitrate content.

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