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Geologic Framework of Aquifer Units and Ground-Water Flowpaths, Verde River Headwaters, North-Central Arizona

Edited by Laurie Wirt, Ed DeWitt, and V.E. Langenheim

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This study combines the results of geologic, geophysical, and geochemical investigations to provide a hydrogeologic framework of major aquifer units, identify ground-water flowpaths, and determine source(s) of base flow to the upper Verde River. The introductory chapter provides an overview of previous studies, predevelopment conditions, present surface-water and ground-water conditions, and a conceptual water budget of the hydrologic system. In subsequent chapters, this conceptual model is evaluated and refined with respect to the results of each successive investigation. First, compilation mapping and field verification of the surficial geology, reinterpretation of driller’s logs, and isopach mapping of alluvial thicknesses and buried volcanic rocks provide new three-dimensional geologic information. Second, a suite of geophysical techniques—including aeromagnetic and gravity surveys and inverse modeling approaches—was used to interpret the deeper subsurface geology. Third, geologic, geophysical, and hydrological data were integrated to define basin boundaries, describe aquifer units in the basin-fill aquifers of Big and Little Chino valleys and the regional carbonate aquifer north of the upper Verde River, and develop a hydrogeologic framework. Water-level gradients were used to infer outlet flowpaths from the basin-fill aquifers through the carbonate aquifer toward the upper Verde River. Fourth, geochemical investigations employing analyses of dissolved major and trace elements and isotopes of δD, δ18O, 3H, 13C, and 14C were used to characterize major aquifers, identify recharge areas, and determine evolution of water chemistry along ground-water flowpaths. Fifth, results of a tracer-dilution study and synoptic sampling identify locations of major spring inflows discharging to the upper Verde River, measure base-flow contributions, which were used to calculate the relative contributions from each aquifer to upper Verde River springs using inverse geochemical modeling. In the final chapter, synthesis of multiple lines of evidence improve understanding of the relationships between the three aquifers, regional ground-water flowpaths, and the proportion of flow from each aquifer to the upper Verde River. Collectively, data combined from these multi-disciplinary and independent sources is used to develop a detailed conceptual model of the hydrogeologic system.

Version 1.0

Posted December 2005

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Front Matter (11.9 MB)

Chapter A. The Verde River Headwaters, Yavapai County, Arizona (32.9 MB)
By Laurie Wirt

Chapter B. Geologic Framework (66.0 MB)
By Ed DeWitt, Victoria E. Langenheim, and Laurie Wirt

Chapter C. Geophysical Framework Based on Analysis of Aeromagnetic
and Gravity Data, Verde River Headwaters, North-Central Arizona (10.5 MB)
By V.E. Langenheim, Ed DeWitt, and Laurie Wirt

Chapter D. Hydrogeologic Framework (20.6 MB)
By Laurie Wirt, Ed DeWitt, and V.E. Langenheim

Chapter E. Geochemistry of Major Aquifers and Springs (27.1 MB)
By Laurie Wirt and Ed DeWitt

Chapter F. Sources of Base Flow in the Upper Verde River (11.9 MB)
By Laurie Wirt

Chapter G. Synthesis of Geologic, Geophysical, Hydrological, and Geochemical Data (282 KB)
By Laurie Wirt

Glossary (91 KB)

Appendix A. Water chemistry data for wells and springs (1981 to 2003), Verde River
headwaters region, Arizona. Methods and laboratories described in Chapter E, this volume. (889 KB)

Appendix B. Isotope data for wells and springs (1986 to 2003), Verde River headwaters, Arizona.
Methods and laboratories described in Chapter E, this volume. (600 KB)

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