USGS Visual Identifier

Ground-Water Resources in the Black Hills Area, South Dakota

By Janet M. Carter, Daniel G. Driscoll, and J. Foster Sawyer

Water-Resources Investigations Report 03-4049

Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation,
South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources,
and the West Dakota Water Development District


The availability of ground-water resources in the Black Hills area is influenced by many factors including location, local recharge and ground-water flow conditions, and structural features. Thus, the availability of ground water can be extremely variable throughout the Black Hills area, and even when water is available, it may not be suitable for various uses depending on the water quality.

The major bedrock aquifers in the Black Hills area are the Deadwood, Madison, Minnelusa, Minnekahta, and Inyan Kara aquifers. Minor bedrock aquifers occur in other hydrogeologic units, including confining units, due to fracturing and interbedded permeable layers.

Various information and maps are presented in this report that describe availability and quality of ground-water resources in the Black Hills area. However, there is no guarantee of obtaining usable water at any location due to the extreme potential variability in conditions that can affect the availability and quality of ground water in the area. Maps presented in this report include the distribution of hydrogeologic units; depth to the top of the five formations that contain major aquifers; thickness of the five formations that contain major aquifers; potentiometric maps for the five major aquifers; saturated thickness of the Madison and Minnelusa aquifers; water temperature in the Madison aquifer; specific conductance in the Madison, Minnelusa, and Inyan Kara aquifers; hardness in the Inyan Kara aquifer; sulfate concentrations in the Minnelusa aquifer; and radon concentrations in the Deadwood aquifer.

Water quality of the major aquifers generally is very good in and near outcrop areas but deteriorates progressively with distance from the outcrops. In the Minnelusa aquifer, an abrupt increase in concentrations of dissolved sulfate occurs downgradient from outcrop areas, where a zone of active anhydrite dissolution occurs.

Most limitations for the use of ground water are related to aesthetic qualities associated with hardness and high concentrations of chloride, sulfate, sodium, manganese, and iron. Very few health-related limitations exist for ground water; most limitations are for radionuclides, such as radon and uranium. In addition, high concentrations of arsenic have been measured in a few samples from the Minnelusa aquifer.




Ground-Water Processes

Description of Study Area



Ground Water

Availability of Ground-Water Resources

Characteristics of Major Aquifers

General Characteristics

Ground-Water Levels

Characteristics of Minor Aquifers

Water Quality of Ground-Water Resources

General Characteristics for Major Aquifers

General Characteristics for Minor Aquifers

Ground-Water Quality Relative to Water Use




This report is available online in Portable Document Format (PDF). If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader, it is available for free download from Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Download the full report (PDF, 23.2MB).

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Pages 25-36 (5.6MB)

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Send questions or comments about this report to the author, J.M. Carter (605) 355-4560 ext. 215.

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

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Last update: 07:48:27 Fri 21 Feb 2003
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