Hydrogeologic Mapping, Data Collection, and Geologic Framework of Glacial Deposits in a Multi-county Area of Northwest Ohio, Northeast Indiana, and South Michigan

Science Center Objects

In cooperation with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency

Groundwater resources in northwestern Ohio, northeastern Indiana and southern Michigan have been a recurring subject of interest related to sources of public, irrigation, and other water supplies and the potential of glacial deposits to supply water to adjacent parts of Ohio.  The glacial deposits that are part of the aquifer system informally known as the “Michindoh aquifer” are a principal source of water to local communities, agriculture, and industry in the region.  More recently, these groundwater resources are being discussed as a possible source of water supply to western suburbs of Toledo.  Long-term understanding of the water budget of the region is of critical interest to residents, agriculture, commerce, and future development as the aquifer is the only source of drinking water to this area.  Improved mapping of the extent of aquifer deposits is of critical need to assess water resources.


Recent USGS multi-state compilations of state-based water-well and bedrock drilling records can provide data to map the extent of aquifer deposits and identify information needs where those deposits have not been characterized by water-well drilling (Bayless and others, 2017; Lampe, 2009). These data can be used to create a digital geologic model of the distribution and hydrogeologic characteristics of aquifers in this region that would become the framework for a regional groundwater flow model. The digital geological model also can be used to estimate the hydrologic properties of the aquifers of the region and identify locations where additional resource monitoring is needed.   


Well development of the USGS Monitoring Well DE-30 using compressed air in Defiance County, Ohio.

Well development of the USGS Monitoring Well DE-30 using compressed air in Defiance County, Ohio. The well development process clears debris from the well and ensures that the data the USGS collects from the instruments in the well reflect the conditions in the subsurface.

Data available at: https://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=412306084240000



The objectives of the project are to:

1. Prepare a digital geologic framework to describe the glacial aquifer system in an approximately 9+-county area of northwestern Ohio, northeastern Indiana, and southern Michigan (Table 1) using water-well drillers’ logs and other available data.
The digital geologic framework will be used to define:

  • Thickness of glacial deposits over bedrock
  • Approximate elevation of the bedrock surface
  • Texture-based estimates of hydraulic conductivity (K) and transmissivity (T) characteristics of parts of the aquifer represented in available well logs and where practical, data on actual K and T obtained through sediment analysis, aquifer tests, or other sources.

2. Establish a long-term monitoring network that helps fill in areas that lack sufficient monitoring and establish new groundwater sites in the region. The data will be made publicly available through the USGS NWISWeb interface. Additionally, existing groundwater wells throughout the 9-county area (potentially publicly and privately owned) will be identified and two synoptic measurements of instantaneous groundwater levels will be performed and used to create potentiometric surface maps during the growing (irrigation) and non-growing seasons to understand the distribution of groundwater in the aquifer system.


Counties in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan included in the geologic framework.

Table 1. Counties in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan included in the geologic framework.

USGS Groundwater Monitoring Well WM-111USGS Groundwater Monitoring Well WM-111USGS Groundwater Monitoring Well WM-111

USGS Groundwater Monitoring Well WM-111 in Williams County, Ohio before and after conversion to a Real-Time Monitoring well.

Data available at https://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?site_no=413812084444601


Relevance and Benefits

The proposed effort provides the region’s citizens, officials, and natural-resource planners with information needed to understand and manage the surface-water and groundwater resources. The effort creates a digital geologic framework and increased monitoring.  The products of this effort and data from monitoring networks will be archived by USGS in a long-term manner that is publicly accessible and not dependent on changes in local resources.

The proposed study supports 3 of the 5 goals of the USGS Water Science Strategy outlined by Evenson and others (2013):

  1. To provide society the information it needs regarding the amount and quality of water in all components of the water cycle.
  2. To advance the understanding of processes that determine water availability.
  3. To deliver timely hydrologic data, analyses, and decision-support tools seamlessly across the Nation to support water-resource decisions.



collecting borehole geophysical logs of the Monitoring well FN-9 in Fulton County, Ohio

Hydrologist Neal Mathes of the USGS Ohio Kentucky Indiana Water Science Center collecting borehole geophysical logs of the Monitoring well FN-9 in Fulton County, Ohio. Data available at https://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/gwlevels/?site_no=413839084220101&agency_cd=OH015.

(USGS OKI Water)

Arihood, L.D., 2009, Processing, analysis, and general evaluation of well-driller records for estimating hydrogeologic parameters of the glacial sediments in a ground-water flow model of the Lake Michigan Basin: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5184, 26 p. https://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2008/5184/

Arihood, L.D., D.C. Lampe, E.R. Bayless, and S.E. Brown, 2019, Comparison of Groundwater-Model Construction Methods, Representations of Glacial Geology, Model Designs, and Groundwater-Model Flow Simulations within Elkhart County, Indiana: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5088

Barlow, P.M., Cunningham, W.L., Zhai, Tong, and Gray, Mark, 2017, U.S. Geological Survey Groundwater Toolbox version 1.3.1, a graphical and mapping interface for analysis of hydrologic data: U.S. Geological Survey Software Release, 26 May 2017, http://dx.doi.org/10.5066/F7R78C9G

Bayless, E.R., Arihood, L.D., Reeves, H.W., Sperl, B.J.S., Qi, S.L., Stipe, V.E., and Bunch, A.R., 2017, Maps and grids of hydrogeologic information created from standardized water-well drillers’ records of the glaciated United States: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5105, 34 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20155105.

Evenson, E.J., Orndorff, R.C., Blome, C.D., Böhlke, J.K., Hershberger, P.K., Langenheim, V.E., McCabe, G.J., Morlock, S.E., Reeves, H.W., Verdin, J.P., Weyers, H.S., and Wood, T.M., 2013, U.S. Geological Survey water science strategy—Observing, understanding, predicting, and delivering water science to the Nation: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1383–G, 49 p.

Feinstein, D.T., Hunt, R.J., and Reeves, H.W., 2010, Regional groundwater-flow model of the Lake Michigan Basin in support of Great Lakes Basin water availability and use studies: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5109, 379 p. https://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5109/

Lampe, D.C., 2009, Hydrogeologic framework of bedrock units and initial salinity distribution for a simulation of groundwater flow for the Lake Michigan Basin: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009–5060, 49 p. https://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2009/5060/

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2013, EPA in Ohio: Michindoh Aquifer: accessed September 6, 2018 at URL https://www.epa.gov/oh/michindoh-aquifer



Links to Data

Williams County, Ohio

Fulton County, Ohio

Defiance County, Ohio

Henry County, Ohio

Steuben County, Indiana

Dekalb County, Indiana

Allen County, Indiana

Branch County, Michigan