Changes in Streamflow and Summary of Major-Ion Chemistry and Loads in the North Fork Red River Basin Upstream from Lake Altus, Northwestern Texas and Western Oklahoma, 1945–1999

By S. Jerrod Smith and Kenneth L. Wahl

Water-Resources Investigations Report 03-4086


Prepared in cooperation with the
Bureau of Reclamation


The report is available in PDF format.


Upstream from Lake Altus, the North Fork Red River drains an area of 2,515 square miles. The quantity and quality of surface water are major concerns at Lake Altus, and water-resource managers and consumers need historical information to make informed decisions about future development. The Lugert-Altus Irrigation District relies on withdrawals from the lake to sustain nearly 46,000 acres of agricultural land.

Kendall's tau tests of precipitation data indicated no statistically significant trend over the entire 100 years of available record. However, a significant increase in precipitation occurred in the last 51 years. Four streamflow-gaging stations with more than 10 years of record were maintained in the basin. These stations recorded no significant trends in annual streamflow volume. Two stations, however, had significant increasing trends in the base-flow index, and three had significant decreasing trends in annual peak flows.

Major-ion chemistry in the North Fork Red River is closely related to the chemical composition of the underlying bedrock. Two main lithologies are represented in the basin upstream from Lake Altus. In the upper reaches, young and poorly consolidated sediments include a range of sizes from coarse gravel to silt and clay. Nearsurface horizons commonly are cemented as calcium carbonate caliche. Finer-grained gypsiferous sandstones and shales dominate the lower reaches of the basin. A distinct increase in dissolved solids, specifically sodium, chloride, calcium, and sulfate, occurs as the river flows over rocks that contain substantial quantities of gypsum, anhydrite, and dolomite. These natural salts are the major dissolved constituents in the North Fork Red River.




Purpose and Scope

Description of the study area


Geologic setting

Background and previous studies

Data analyzed

Climatic data

Hydrologic data

Major-ion and load data

Methods of analysis

Kendall's tau and Kendall slope estimator

Base-flow determination

Stiff and Piper diagrams

Constituent load and yield computation

Precipitation trends

Streamflow trends

McClellan Creek near McLean, Texas (station 07301200)

Sweetwater Creek near Kelton, Texas (station 07301410) and near Sweetwater, Oklahoma (station 07301420)

North Fork Red River near Carter, Oklahoma (station 07301500)

Comparison of Streamflow Trends between the North Fork Red River and Beaver-North Canadian River study areas

Major-ion chemistry

Stiff diagrams

Piper diagrams

Constituent load and yield estimates


Selected references


For additional information write to:


District Chief

U.S. Geological Survey

Water-Resources Division

202 NW 66 St., Bldg. 7

Oklahoma City, OK 73116


Copies of this report can be purchased from:


U.S. Geological Survey

Information Services

Box 25286

Federal Center

Denver, CO 80225

Download the PDF version of the report for high-resolution, printable pages (4.3MB).

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