Geohydrology of the shallow aquifers in the Denver metropolitan area, Colorado

Hydrologic Atlas 736



The Denver metropolitan area is underlain by shallow layers of water-bearing sediments (aquifers) consisting of unconsolidated gravel, sand, silt, and clay. The depth to water in these aquifers is less than 20 feet in much of the area, and the aquifers provide a ready source of water to numerous shallow, small-capacity wells. The shallow depth to water also makes the aquifers susceptible to contamination from the land surface. Water percolating downward from residential, commercial, and industrial property, spills of hazardous materials, and leaks from underground storage tanks and pipelines can cause contaminants to enter the shallow aquifers. Wet basements, unstable foundation materials, and waterlogged soils also are common in areas of very shallow ground water.
Knowledge of the extent, thickness, and water-table altitude of the shallow aquifers is incomplete. This, coupled with the complexity of development in this large metropolitan area, makes effective use, management, and protection of these aquifers extremely difficult. Mapping of the geologic and hydrologic characteristics of these aquifers would provide the general public and technical users with information needed to better use, manage, and protect this water resource. A study to map the geohydrology of shallow aquifers in the Denver metropolitan area was begun in 1994. The work was undertaken by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Army-Rocky Mountain Arsenal, U.S. Department of Energy-Rocky Flats Field Office, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Department of Natural Resources-State Engineers Office, Denver Water Department, Littleton-Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant, East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District, Metro Wastewater Reclamation District, Willows Water District, and the cities of Aurora, Lakewood, and Thornton.
This report presents the results of a systematic mapping of the extent, thickness, and water-table altitude of the shallow aquifers in a 700-square-mile part of the greater Denver metropolitan area (fig. 1). The five sheets in this report (figs. 2-7) show (1) the thickness and extent of the unconsolidated sediments that overlie bedrock formations in the area, (2) the altitude and configuration of the buried bedrock surface, (3) the altitude of the water table and direction of ground-water movement, (4) the saturated thickness of the shallow aquifers, and (5) the depth to the water table in the shallow aquifers. The maps primarily are intended to indicate the general trends in altitude and thickness of the aquifers and are not intended to define conditions at specific sites.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Geohydrology of the shallow aquifers in the Denver metropolitan area, Colorado
Series title Hydrologic Atlas
Series number 736
ISBN 0607855541
DOI 10.3133/ha736
Edition -
Year Published 1996
Language ENGLISH
Description 5 maps :col. ;96 90 x cm., on sheets 115 x 97 cm., folded in envelope 30 x 24 cm.
Scale 50000
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details