Hydrologic Framework and Characterization of the Little Colorado River Alluvial Aquifer near Leupp, Arizona

Scientific Investigations Report 2023-5052
Prepared in cooperation with the Navajo Nation
By: , and 



The Little Colorado River alluvial aquifer near Leupp, Arizona, was investigated as a possible source of irrigation water for the Leupp and Birdsprings Chapters of the Navajo Nation. The physical, chemical, and hydraulic characteristics of the alluvial aquifer were studied using geophysical surveys, installation of observation wells, water-level measurements, chemical analyses, groundwater pumping simulations, and review of previous investigations. Geophysical surveys and well borings revealed that the aquifer ranges in thickness from near 0 feet around its periphery to about 100 feet in its thickest parts. Water levels were monitored in nine alluvial wells within the study area and compared with earlier measurements collected in 1998 and 1999. Comparison of those earlier water levels with water levels collected as part of this study showed a decline of between about 5 and 12 feet has occurred in the last 23 years. The water chemistry of the aquifer was analyzed for salinity hazard, sodium-adsorption hazard, and specific-ion toxicity. The sodium-adsorption hazard and specific-ion toxicity of alluvial aquifer water were found to be low. However, the salinity hazard was high enough in most areas that it could negatively affect salt-sensitive crops. Well-field pumping scenarios conducted for this study demonstrated that using groundwater from the alluvial aquifer for irrigated agriculture is theoretically possible but may be economically challenging owing to the hydraulic properties of the aquifer.

Suggested Citation

Mason, J.P., Kennedy, J.R., Macy, J.P., and Gungle, B., 2023, Hydrologic framework and characterization of the Little Colorado River alluvial aquifer near Leupp, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2023–5052, 40 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20235052.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Water-chemistry sample results from monitoring wells, Little Colorado River alluvial aquifer, northeastern Arizona
  • Appendix 2. Major ion chemistry results of water samples collected from springs and wells in the Moenkopi Formation in Arizona
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydrologic framework and characterization of the Little Colorado River alluvial aquifer near Leupp, Arizona
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2023-5052
DOI 10.3133/sir20235052
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Arizona Water Science Center
Description Report: ix, 40 p.; 2 Data Releases; 2 Appendix
Country United States
State Arizona
Other Geospatial Little Colorado River Alluvial Aquifer
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