Hydrogeology of the Tully Trough, southern Onondaga County and northern Cortland County, New York

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2003-4112
By:  and 



A trough valley near Tully, N.Y. was formed by the same glacial processes that formed the Finger Lake valleys to the west. Glacial ice eroded a preglacial bedrock divide along the northern rim of the Allegheny Plateau and deepened a preglacial valley to form a trough valley. Subsequent meltwater issuing from the ice transported and deposited large amounts of sediment which partly filled the trough. The Tully trough contains three distinct segments—the West Branch valley of the southward-flowing Tioughnioga River in the south, the Valley Heads Moraine near Tully, and the Tully valley of the northward-flowing Onondaga Creek in the north.

The West Branch valley segment south of the moraine contains a two-aquifer system—a surficial unconfined sand and gravel aquifer and a confined basal sand and gravel aquifer that rests on bedrock, separated by a thick, fine-grained glaciolacustrine fine sand, silt, and clay unit. Water quality in the surficial aquifer is generally good, although it is typically hard. Water in the basal, confined aquifer is more mineralized and yields less water to wells than the surficial aquifer.

The Valley Heads Moraine near Tully consists of layers of sand and gravel, fine sand, silt, clay, and till. The land surface contains many kettle-hole lakes, ponds, wetlands, and dry depressions. The moraine contains several aquifers, some of which are discontinuous. Water quality in the shallow aquifers is generally good, although hard. Water quality in the deep aquifer is generally good, although slightly mineralized by water discharging upward from shale.

The Tully valley segment north of the moraine has a confined basal sand-and-gravel aquifer that is overlain by a thick layer of lacustrine silt and clay in the southern part of the valley and becomes interlayered with sand and some fine gravel in the northern part. Most homeowners obtain their water supply from streams or springs along the valley walls or from wells. Water from wells completed in coarse-grained sediment on the north side of the moraine and from the basal aquifer is generally fresh, but water from deep wells finished in the basal aquifer north of Solvay Road contains high concentrations of sodium chloride and calcium sulfate that presumably leached from halite and gypsum minerals within the bedrock.

Suggested Citation

Kappel, W.M. and Miller, T.S., 2003, Hydrogeology of the Tully Trough, southern Onondaga County and northern Cortland County, New York: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 2003–4112, 17 p., https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wri034112.

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Geology
  • Hydrology
  • Summary
  • Selected References
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydrogeology of the Tully Trough, southern Onondaga County and northern Cortland County, New York
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 2003-4112
DOI 10.3133/wri034112
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) New York Water Science Center
Description 17 p.
Country United States
State New York
County Cortland County, Onondaga County
Other Geospatial Tully Trough
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details