Scientific Investigations Map 3230
Most of the subsidence in the Houston–Galveston region, Texas, has occurred as a direct result of groundwater withdrawals for municipal supply, commercial and industrial use, and irrigation that depressured and dewatered the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers and caused compaction of the clay layers of the aquifer sediments. This report—prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Harris–Galveston Subsidence District, City of Houston, Fort Bend Subsidence District, Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, and Brazoria County Groundwater Conservation District—is one in an annual series of reports depicting water-level altitudes and water-level changes in the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers and compaction in the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers in the Houston–Galveston region. The report contains maps showing approximate water-level altitudes for 2012 (calculated from measurements of water levels in wells made during December 2011–February 2012) for the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers; maps showing 1-year (2011–12) water-level-altitude changes for each aquifer; maps showing 5-year (2007–12) water-level-altitude changes for each aquifer; maps showing long-term (1990–2012 and 1977–2012) water-level-altitude changes for the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers; a map showing long-term (2000–12) water-level-altitude change for the Jasper aquifer; a map showing locations of borehole extensometer sites; and graphs showing measured compaction of subsurface sediments at the extensometers from 1973 (or later) through 2011. Tables listing the data that were used to construct each water-level map for each aquifer and the cumulative compaction graphs are included.
In 2012, water-level-altitude contours for the Chicot aquifer ranged from 250 feet (ft) below North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (hereinafter, datum) in a small area in southwestern Harris County to 200 ft above datum in western-central Montgomery County. Water-level-altitude changes during 2012 in the Chicot aquifer ranged from a 48-ft decline to an 18-ft rise. Contoured 5-year and long-term changes in water-level altitudes in the Chicot aquifer ranged from a 60-ft decline to a 40-ft rise (2007–12), from a 100-ft decline to an 80-ft rise (1990–2012), and from a 100-ft decline to a 200-ft rise (1977–2012). In 2012, water-level-altitude contours for the Evangeline aquifer ranged from 300 ft below datum in isolated areas located in south-central Montgomery County and north-central Harris County, in southwest Harris County, and in northeastern Fort Bend County to 200 ft above datum near the county boundary intersection of Waller, Montgomery, and Grimes Counties. Water-level-altitude changes for 2012 in the Evangeline aquifer ranged from a 90-ft decline to a 39-ft rise. Contoured 5-year and long-term changes in water-level altitudes in the Evangeline aquifer ranged from an 80-ft decline to an 80-ft rise (2007–12), from a 220-ft decline to a 220-ft rise (1990–2012), and from a 360-ft decline to a 260-ft rise (1977–2012). In 2012, water-level-altitude contours for the Jasper aquifer ranged from 250 ft below datum in south-central Montgomery County to 250 ft above datum in northwest Montgomery County. Water-level-altitude changes for 2012 in the Jasper aquifer ranged from a 74-ft decline to a 4-ft rise. Contoured changes in water-level altitudes in the Jasper aquifer ranged from a 120-ft decline to no change (2007–12), and from a 220-ft decline to no change (2000–12).
Compaction of subsurface sediments (mostly in the clay layers) composing the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers was recorded continuously at 13 borehole extensometers at 11 sites. For the period of record beginning in 1973 (or later) and ending in December 2011, cumulative compaction data collected from the 13 extensometers ranged from 0.102 ft at the Texas City–Moses Lake site to 3.621 ft at the Addicks site. The rate of compaction varies from site to site because of differences in groundwater withdrawals near each site and differences among sites in the clay-to-sand ratio in the subsurface sediments. Therefore, it is not possible to extrapolate or infer a rate of compaction for adjacent areas on the basis of the rate of compaction measured at a nearby extensometer.
First posted September 21, 2012
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Kasmarek, M.C., Johnson, M.R., and Ramage, J.K., 2012, Water-level altitudes 2012 and water-level changes in the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers and compaction 1973–2011 in the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers, Houston–Galveston region, Texas: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3230, 18 p., 16 sheets.
Data Collection and Analysis Methods
Water-Level Altitudes and Changes
Compaction in the Chicot and Evangeline Aquifers
Appendix 1. Well location maps (available online at https://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/3230/)