Geologic and hydrologic features of the San Bernardino area, California; with special reference to underflow across the San Jacinto fault

Water Supply Paper 1419
By:  and 



This is the second in a series of interpretive reports on subsurface outflow from the ground-water basins of San Bernardino County, Calif., prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the San Bernardino County Flood Control District. One principal purpose of the study was to estimate the ground-water outflow from the Bunker Hill basin to the Rialto-Colton basin across the San Jacinto fault, which, except locally, forms a nearly impermeable boundary between the two basins. In addition, the report deals qualitatively with the geology, the fault barriers that divide the area into several ground-water basins, the physical nature and degree of imperviousness of the barriers, the occurrence and movement of ground water and fluctuations of water level in the basins, and the chemical quality of surface and ground waters in the San Bernardino area. The report includes a geologic map and sections, water-level-contour maps and profiles, and hydrographs of selected well. The Santa Ana River, the principal stream, flows generally westward across the area. Channels of the river and its tributaries overlie a large irregular structural depression filled with alluvial deposits ranging in age from late Tertiary to Recent and forming a valley bounded on the north by the San Gabriel Mountains, on the east by the San Bernardino Mountains, and on the south by an irregular group of hills. Large alluvial fans underlie most of the area, but its landforms also include alluvial benches and terraces near the mountains, stream channels, and elongate hills, ridges, and scarps along the trace of the San Jacinto fault, which strikes northwestward across the valley about in the center of the area. This fault and others divide the area into ground-water basins, which include the Bunker Hill, Rialto-Colton, upper and lower Lytle and Chino basins. The water-bearing deposits include the following units: the younger alluvium. of Recent age, which occupies principally the backfilled channels beneath the Santa Ana River and its tributaries and through which ground water moves from Bunker Hill basin to Rialto-Colton basin; the older alluvium, of Pleistocene age, which is the principal water-bearing unit of the area and yields water to more than a thousand wells; and continental deposits of Tertiary to Quaternary age, which crop out along the southern margin of the area and locally along the San Gabriel Mountains on the north. The younger alluvium attains a maximum thickness of about 125 feet beneath the Santa Ana River south of San Bernardino. Locally in the Bunker Hill basin it is composed of two members, an upper member of relatively impermeable clay and a lower member of highly permeable material in which water is confined by the upper member. The older alluvium locally has a known thickness greater than 700 feet; elsewhere in the San Bernardino Valley it may exceed 1,400 feet. Locally, where ground water is confined in Bunker Hill basin, the older alluvium is divided into three permeable water-bearing zones separated from each other and from the younger alluvium above by less permeable zones. In parts of Chino and Rialto-Colton basins the alluvium consists of a coarse-grained facies along a former course of a major stream that is interfingered with and overlain by relatively fine-grained deposits. The permeability of the younger alluvium in the area beneath the Santa Ana River downstream from the San Jacinto fault was determined from tests to be about 2,700 gallons per day per square foot. The permeability of the coarse water-yielding materials of the older alluvium several miles downstream was estimated from tests to be about the same magnitude. Rocks that yield practically no water include continental rocks of Tertiary age, which are not exposed in the area but are tapped by wells in Rialto-Colton basin, and crystalline and metamorphic rocks of pre-Tertiary age that form the bedrock of the area.

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Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Geologic and hydrologic features of the San Bernardino area, California; with special reference to underflow across the San Jacinto fault
Series title Water Supply Paper
Series number 1419
DOI 10.3133/wsp1419
Year Published 1963
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description Report: vi, 114 p.; 19 Plates: 37.00 × 52.19 inches or smaller
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial San Bernardino area
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