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Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5215

Simulation of Ground-Water Flow, contributing Recharge Areas, and Ground-Water Travel Time in the Missouri River Alluvial Aquifer near Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas

By: Brian P. Kelly U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Army


The Missouri River alluvial aquifer near Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, supplies all or part of the drinking water for Ft. Leavenworth; Leavenworth, Kansas; Weston, Missouri; and cooling water for the Kansas City Power and Light, Iatan Power Plant. Ground water at three sites within the alluvial aquifer near the Ft. Leavenworth well field is contaminated with trace metals and organic compounds and concerns have been raised about the potential contamination of drinking-water supplies. In 2001, the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Army began a study of ground-water flow in the Missouri River alluvial aquifer near Ft. Leavenworth.

Hydrogeologic data from 173 locations in the study area was used to construct a ground-water flow model (MODFLOW-2000) and particle-tracking program (MODPATH) to determine the direction and travel time of ground-water flow and contributing recharge areas for water-supply well fields within the alluvial aquifer. The modeled area is 28.6 kilometers by 32.6 kilometers and contains the entire study area. The model uses a uniform grid size of 100 meters by 100 meters and contains 372,944 cells in 4 layers, 286 columns, and 326 rows. The model represents the alluvial aquifer using four layers of variable thickness with no intervening confining layers.

The model was calibrated to both quasi-steady-state and transient hydraulic head data collected during the study and ground-water flow was simulated for five well-pumping/river-stage scenarios. The model accuracy was calculated using the root mean square error between actual measurements of hydraulic head and model generated hydraulic head at the end of each model run. The accepted error for the model calibrations were below the maximum measurement errors. The error for the quasi-steady-state calibration was 0.82 meter; for the transient calibration it was 0.33 meter.

The shape, size, and ground-water travel time within the contributing recharge area for each well or well field is affected by changes in river stage and pumping rates and by the location of the well or well field with respect to the major rivers, alluvial valley walls, and other pumping wells. The shapes of the simulated contributing recharge areas for the well fields in the study area are elongated in the upstream direction for all well-pumping/river-stage scenarios. The capture of ground water by the pumping wells as it moved downgradient toward the Missouri River caused the long up-valley extent of the contributing recharge areas. Recharge to the Iatan and Weston well fields primarily is from precipitation and surface runoff from the surrounding uplands because the contributing recharge area does not intersect the Missouri River for any well-pumping/river-stage scenarios. Recharge to the Leavenworth and Ft. Leavenworth well fields is from precipitation, surface runoff from the surrounding uplands, and the Missouri River because the contributing recharge area intersects these boundaries for all well-pumping/river-stage scenarios.

Particle tracking analysis indicated ground water from the three contaminated sites was captured by the Ft. Leavenworth well field for all well-pumping/river-stage scenarios. Ground-water travel times to the Ft. Leavenworth well field for average well-pumping/river-stage scenario ranged from about 33 years for the closest contamination site to about 71 years for the farthest contamination site. Ground-water flow was induced below the Missouri River by the Ft. Leavenworth and Leavenworth well fields for all well-pumping/river-stage scenarios.




Purpose and Scope

Study Area Description

Hydrogeologic Framework

Physiography and Drainage



Bedrock and Valley Walls

Alluvial Deposits

Hydrology and Conceptual Ground-Water Flow Model

Hydraulic Properties of the Aquifer

Aquifer Boundaries

Rivers and Lakes

Potentiometric Surface

Alluvial Valley Walls and Bedrock

Upstream and Downstream Aquifer Boundaries

Well Pumping

Ground-Water Movement

Simulation of Ground-Water Flow

Model Description

Boundary and Initial Conditions Parameters and Model Zones

Hydraulic Properties


Quasi-Steady-State and Transient Calibration

Sensitivity Analysis

Model Limitations

Contributing Recharge Areas and Ground-Water Travel Time

Pumping- and River-Stage Scenarios

Iatan Power Plant Well Field

Weston Well Field

Leavenworth Well Field

Ft. Leavenworth Well Field

Individual wells of the Ft. Leavenworth Well Field

Hydrologic Controls On Contributing Recharge Areas




Figures 1–9. Maps showing—

  1. Location of well fields, rivers, streams, drains, and lakes in the study area
  2. Location of ground-water contamination sites in the Missouri River flood plain at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas
  3. Lithologic sections of the Missouri River alluvial aquifer in the study area
  4. Thickness and extent of the Missouri River alluvial aquifer in the study area
  5. Generalized potentiometric surface map of the Missouri River alluvial aquifer in the study area
  6. Thickness of model layers 1 through 4
  7. Parameter zones for recharge
  8. Parameter zones for model layers 1 through 4
  9. Location of wells in the study area
  10. Average daily river-stage altitude at St. Joseph, Kansas City, and Sharps Station,
    Missouri, from March 26, 2001, to July 25, 2002
  11. Precipitation between March 26, 2001, and July 25, 2002
  12. Simulated and observed ground-water levels from April 5, 2001, to July 25, 2002, for 13 wells in the study area
  13. Composite scaled sensitivities for the quasi-steady-state and transient calibration simulations
  14. One-percent scaled sensitivities for selected parameters for the quasi-steady-state calibration simulation
  15. One-percent scaled sensitivities for selected parameters for the transient calibration simulation
  16. Simulated contributing recharge areas for each well-pumping/river-stage scenario
  17. Simulated ground-water travel time for each well-pumping/river-stage scenario
  18. Simulated ground-water travel times between FTL-10, FTL-11, and FTL-69 and the Ft. Leavenworth well field


  1. Parameter names, types, layer number, zone number, and final value
  2. Horizontal hydraulic conductivity, transmissivity, and storage data
  3. Horizontal hydraulic conductivities for clay, silt, sand, and gravel
  4. Water-level measurement error sources and maximum error values
  5. Well numbers and simulated and observed ground-water altitudes
  6. Volumetric budget for quasi-steady-state calibration simulation
  7. Well field, well number, well name, well layer, row, column, and pumping rates used for the steady state and transient simulation ground-water flow
  8. Contributing recharge areas for all well fields and all well-pumping/river-stage scenarios
  9. Contributing recharge areas for individual Ft. Leavenworth wells for each well-pumping/river-stage scenario


Conversion Factors and Datum
Multiply By To obtain
meter (m) 3.281 foot (ft)
kilometer (km) 0.6214 mile (mi)
square meter (m2) 10.76 square foot (ft2)
square kilometer (km2) 0.3861 square mile (mi2)
cubic meter (m3) 0.0008107 acre-foot (acre-ft)
  Flow rate  
meter per day (m/d) 3.281 foot per day (ft/d)
cubic meter per second (m3/s) 35.31 cubic foot per second (ft3/s)
cubic meter per day (m3/d) 35.31 cubic foot per day (ft3/d)
cubic meter per day (m3/d) 264.2 gallon per day (gal/d)
cubic meter per day per square kilometer [(m3/d)/km2] 684.28 gallon per day per square mile [(gal/d)/mi2]
cubic meter per second (m3/s) 22.83 million gallons per day (Mgal/d)
cubic meter per day per square kilometer [(m3/d)/km2] 0.0006844
million gallons per day per square mile [(Mga/d)/mi2]
  Hydraulic conductivity  
meter per day (m/d) 3.281 foot per day (ft/d)
meter squared per day (m2/d) 10.76 foot squared per day (ft2/d)

Temperature in degrees Celsius (°C) may be converted to degrees Fahrenheit (°F) as follows:
°F = (1.8 x °C) + 32

Altitude, as used in this report, refers to distance above the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD of 1929)—a geodetic datum derived from a general adjustment of the first-order level nets of both the United States and Canada, formerly called Sea Level Datum of 1929.

*Transmissivity: The standard unit for transmissivity is cubic foot per day per square foot times foot of aquifer thickness [(ft3/d)/ft2]ft. In this report, the mathematically reduced form, foot squared per day (ft2/d), is used for convenience.


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For more information about USGS activities in Missouri contact:

District Chief

U.S. Geological Survey

Water Resources Discipline

1400 Independence Road

Rolla, Missouri 65401

Telephone: (573) 308-3667

Fax: (573) 308-3645

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