Aquifer Compaction, Recovery, and Land-surface Elevation Change in the Albuquerque Basin

Science Center Objects

In many groundwater basins in the arid to semiarid western United States, permanent regional-scale land-surface elevation change has resulted from substantial drawdown of groundwater levels. By the end of 2008, groundwater drawdown from municipal pumping in the Albuquerque area had reached as much as 120 feet below predevelopment (~1950s) water levels. In 2014 the USGS, in cooperation with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, undertook a study to evaluate the amount of land-surface elevation change in the Albuquerque area. Data from benchmark surveys, a local extensometer, and Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) satellite data were used to evaluate land-surface elevation changes from 2005 to 2010.

Aquifer Compaction Data, NMWSC

Aquifer Compaction Data, NMWSC

(Public domain.)

Approach:

  • Perform a comprehensive survey of benchmarks in the Albuquerque area and compare elevations to results of previous surveys
  • Evaluate extensometer data for evidence of aquifer compaction and recovery
  • Use InSAR data to identify periods of time when and areas where land-surface elevation changed from 2005-2010.

 

Objectives:

  • Determine changes in land-surface elevation in the Albuquerque area
  • Evaluate trends in land-surface elevation over time
  • Determine relation of land-surface elevation changes and groundwater level changes.
Fault, NMWSC

Fault, NMWSC

(Public domain.)