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Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5209

Prepared in cooperation with the Northern Cheyenne Tribe

Estimates of the Volume of Water in Five Coal Aquifers, Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Southeastern Montana

By L.K. Tuck, Daniel K. Pearson, M.R. Cannon, and DeAnn M. Dutton

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (5.5 MB)Abstract

The Tongue River Member of the Tertiary Fort Union Formation is the primary source of groundwater in the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana. Coal beds within this formation generally contain the most laterally extensive aquifers in much of the reservation. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, conducted a study to estimate the volume of water in five coal aquifers.

This report presents estimates of the volume of water in five coal aquifers in the eastern and southern parts of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation: the Canyon, Wall, Pawnee, Knobloch, and Flowers-Goodale coal beds in the Tongue River Member of the Tertiary Fort Union Formation. Only conservative estimates of the volume of water in these coal aquifers are presented.

The volume of water in the Canyon coal was estimated to range from about 10,400 acre-feet (75 percent saturated) to 3,450 acre-feet (25 percent saturated). The volume of water in the Wall coal was estimated to range from about 14,200 acre-feet (100 percent saturated) to 3,560 acre-feet (25 percent saturated). The volume of water in the Pawnee coal was estimated to range from about 9,440 acre-feet (100 percent saturated) to 2,360 acre-feet (25 percent saturated). The volume of water in the Knobloch coal was estimated to range from about 38,700 acre-feet (100 percent saturated) to 9,680 acre-feet (25 percent saturated). The volume of water in the Flowers-Goodale coal was estimated to be about 35,800 acre-feet (100 percent saturated).

Sufficient data are needed to accurately characterize coal-bed horizontal and vertical variability, which is highly complex both locally and regionally. Where data points are widely spaced, the reliability of estimates of the volume of coal beds is decreased. Additionally, reliable estimates of the volume of water in coal aquifers depend heavily on data about water levels and data about coal-aquifer characteristics. Because the data needed to define the volume of water were sparse, only conservative estimates of the volume of water in the five coal aquifers are presented in this report. These estimates need to be used with caution and mindfulness of the uncertainty associated with them.

First posted June 25, 2013

For additional information contact:
Director, Montana Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
3162 Bozeman Avenue
Helena, MT 59601
http://mt.water.usgs.gov/

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Suggested citation:

Tuck, L.K., Pearson, D.K., Cannon, M.R., and Dutton, D.M., 2013, Estimates of the volume of water in five coal aquifers, Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, southeastern Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5209, 26 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2012/5209/.



Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Methods of Investigation

Estimates of the Volume of Water in Five Coal Aquifers

Reliability and Uncertainty of Volume Estimates

Summary

References Cited


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