USGS - Science for a Changing World

Water-Resources Investigations Report 03-4029

Hydrogeology of Shallow Basin-Fill Deposits in Areas of Salt Lake Valley, Salt Lake County, Utah


By Susan A. Thiros,


A study of recently developed residential/commercial areas of Salt Lake Valley, Utah, was done from 1999 to 2001 in areas in which shallow ground water has the potential to move to a deeper aquifer that is used for public supply. Thirty monitoring wells were drilled and sampled in 1999 as part of the study. The ground water was either under unconfined or confined conditions, depending on depth to water and the presence or absence of fine-grained deposits. The wells were completed in the shallowest water-bearing zone capable of supplying water. Monitoring-well depths range from 23 to 154 feet. Lithologic, geophysical, hydraulic-conductivity, transmissivity, water-level, and water-temperature data were obtained for or collected from the wells.

Silt and clay layers noted on lithologic logs correlate with increases in electrical conductivity and natural gamma radiation shown on many of the electromagnetic-induction and natural gamma logs. Relatively large increases in electrical conductivity, determined from the electromagnetic-induction logs, with no major changes in natural gamma radiation are likely caused by increased dissolved-solids content in the ground water. Some intervals with high electrical conductivity correspond to areas in which water was present during drilling.

Unconfined conditions were present at 7 of 20 monitoring wells on the west side and at 2 of 10 wells on the east side of Salt Lake Valley. Fine-grained deposits confine the ground water. Anthropogenic compounds were detected in water sampled from most of the wells, indicating a connection with the land surface. Data were collected from 20 of the monitoring wells to estimate the hydraulic conductivity and transmissivity of the shallow ground-water system. Hydraulic-conductivity values of the shallow aquifer ranged from 30 to 540 feet per day. Transmissivity values of the shallow aquifer ranged from 3 to 1,070 feet squared per day. There is a close linear relation between transmissivity determined from slug-test analysis and transmissivity estimated from specific capacity.

Water-level fluctuations were measured in the 30 monitoring wells from 1999 to July 2001. Generally, water-level changes measured in wells on the west side of the valley followed a seasonal trend and wells on the east side showed less fluctuation or a gradual decline during the 2-year period. This may indicate that a larger percentage of recharge to the shallow ground-water system on the west side is from somewhat consistent seasonal sources, such as canals and unconsumed irrigation water, as compared to sources on the east side. Water levels measured in monitoring wells completed in the shallow ground-water system near large-capacity public-supply wells varied in response to ground-water withdrawals from the deeper confined aquifer. Water temperature was monitored in 23 wells. Generally, little or no change in water temperature was measured in monitoring wells with a depth to water greater than about 40 feet. The shallower the water level in the well, the greater the water-temperature change measured during the study.

Comparison of water levels measured in the monitoring wells and deeper wells in the same area indicate a downward gradient on the east side of the valley. Water levels in the shallow and deeper aquifers in the secondary recharge area on the west side of the valley were similar to those on the east side. Water levels measured in the monitoring wells and nearby wells completed in the deeper aquifer indicate that the vertical gradient can change with time and stresses on the system.





Purpose and Scope

Hydrogeologic Setting


Lithologic and Borehole Geophysical Logs

Hydraulic Conductivity and Transmissivity

Water-Level and Temperature Fluctuations

Hydrogeology of Shallow Basin-Fill Deposits

Lithologic and Borehole Geophysical Logs

Hydraulic Conductivity and Transmissivity

Water-Level and Temperature Fluctuations

Water-Level Gradients


References Cited

This report is contained in the following file:

WRI034029.pdf (2 mb)

Plate 1 (oversized) is available as a separate file, as well:

Plate1.pdf (3.1 mb)

Send questions or comments about this report to the author, Susan A. Thiros ( 801-908-5063.

For more information about USGS activities in Utah, visit the USGS Utah District home page.

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