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Streamflow Characteristics for the Black Hills of South Dakota, through Water Year 1993

By Lisa D. Miller and Daniel G. Driscoll

Water-Resources Investigations Report 97-4288

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


This report summarizes streamflow records and describes streamflow characteristics for streams draining the Black Hills of western South Dakota. Monthly and annual streamflow records are tabulated for all available years of record, through water year 1993, for 129 continuous-record gaging stations, including 111 stations for which records of daily flow are available and 18 stations for which only monthly records are available. Various summary statistics and graphics are presented for stations with sufficient periods of record. In addition to streamflow summaries, records of monthend contents are presented for five reservoirs operated by the Bureau of Reclamation in the Black Hills area.

Streamflow characteristics are described for four categories of hydrogeologic settings, including interior sedimentary basins, interior crystalline basins, interior basins downstream of loss zones (loss-zone basins), and exterior basins. All of the interior basins are located predominantly within the outermost extent of the outcrop of the Inyan Kara Group and the exterior basins are located predominantly beyond this outcrop.

Distinct differences in variability of annual and monthly streamflow are described for the four categories of hydrogeologic settings. The interior sedimentary basins, which are dominated by springflow from headwater areas, have the smallest variability in both annual and monthly flow, as a group. The exterior basins, as a group, have the largest variability in both annual and monthly flow. Streamflow variability for the interior crystalline basins, which are composed primarily of Precambrian and Tertiary igneous and metamorphic rocks, generally falls midway between the interior sedimentary and exterior basins. Loss-zone stations, which are located downstream of loss zones that occur where streams cross outcrops of the Madison Limestone and other overlying sedimentary units, exhibit the widest range in streamflow variability of any of the categories. Most of the loss-zone basins have springs located upstream of the gaging stations, but downstream of the loss zones. Flow at several of the loss-zone stations is dominated by large and consistent springflow; however, flow at other loss-zone stations is dominated by streamflow losses or by tributary inflows between the loss zones and the gaging stations, which results in extremely variable streamflow characteristics. It is demonstrated that springflow in Battle, Spring, Elk, and Bear Butte Creeks is much more variable than in Cascade Springs, Fall River, Beaver Creek, and Redwater River.

Interior crystalline basins and exterior basins are shown to be much more responsive to climatic conditions than the springflow-dominated basins. Zero-flow months have been recorded for all of the exterior basins and most of the interior crystalline basins; however, zero-flow months have not been recorded for any of the interior sedimentary basins. Zero-flow months have not been recorded for the loss-zone stations with large, consistent springflow; however, zero-flow months are common for loss-zone stations with smaller, less consistent springs.

Direct surface runoff is demonstrated to be uncommon for outcrops of the Madison Limestone and Minnelusa Formation. Examination of streamflow records for two basins with large outcrops of these formations indicates that direct surface runoff seldom occurs.

Annual streamflow is shown to increase from south to north, which is consistent with climatic patterns for the area. Annual yield generally is larger for all of the interior categories than for the exterior basins; however, this is consistent with larger precipitation and smaller evapotranspiration rates at higher elevations. Annual yields generally are largest for the interior sedimentary basins; however, all of these basins are located in the northern Black Hills. Interior crystalline basins located in the northern Black Hills have annual yields that are comparable with interior sedimentary basins.




Purpose and scope

Description of study area

Physiography and climate


Reservoirs and water use


Summary of streamflow gaging in the Black Hills

History of streamflow gaging

Summary of streamflow records

Stations with records of only monthly mean flow

Stations with less than 5 years of daily record

Stations with 5 to 9 years of daily record

Stations with 10 or more years of daily record

Streamflow characteristics for selected basins

Methods for categorizing basins

Comparison of streamflow characteristics for selected hydrogeologic settings

Factors affecting streamflow variability

Summary and conclusions

Selected references

Supplemental information


Suggested Citation:

Miller, L.D., and Driscoll, D.G., Streamflow characteristics for the Black Hills of South Dakota, through water year 1993: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 97-4288, 322 p.

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 report in sections in PDF formate:

Body (3.3MB);

Sections A-D (2.4MB);

Section E - Tables 1-17 (4.7MB); Tables 18-33 (4.9MB); Tables 34-52 (5.8MB);

Section F (1.2MB).

Document Accessibility: Adobe Systems Incorporated has information about PDFs and the visually impaired. This information provides tools to help make PDF files accessible. These tools convert Adobe PDF documents into HTML or ASCII text, which then can be read by a number of common screen-reading programs that synthesize text as audible speech. In addition, an accessible version of Acrobat Reader 5.0 for Windows (English only), which contains support for screen readers, is available. These tools and the accessible reader may be obtained free from Adobe at Adobe Access.

Send questions or comments about this report to the author, D.G. Driscoll (605) 352-4241 ext. 211.

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

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Last modified: Wednesday, December 07 2016, 01:23:46 PM
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