Williston and Powder River Basins Groundwater Availability Study

Science Center Objects

The development of two nationally important energy-producing areas, the Williston structural basin (containing the Bakken Formation) and Powder River structural basin, provide a critical opportunity to study the water-energy nexus within a groundwater context. Large volumes of water are needed for energy development in these basins. The hydraulically connected aquifers in the regional glacial, lower Tertiary, and Upper Cretaceous aquifer systems are the shallowest, most accessible, and in some cases, the only potable aquifers within the Northern Great Plains.

This study area is supported by the USGS Water Availability and Use Science Program (previously the Groundwater Resources Program) to assess and quantify the availability of the Nation’s groundwater resources. 

 

The purpose of the Williston and Powder River Basins groundwater availability study is to quantify the current groundwater resource, as part of a USGS National assessment.

The overall objective of this study is to assess the groundwater resource, particularly as energy resources are developed. This objective will advance tools, information, and conceptual understanding of this areally extensive regional transboundary aquifer system.

The scope includes:

  • Williston structural basin. Develop a hydrogeologic framework, estimate hydrologic budget components, refine the conceptual model of groundwater flow, and numerically simulate the regional groundwater flow for the glacial, lower Tertiary, and Upper Cretaceous aquifer systems.
  • Powder River structural basin. Develop a hydrogeologic framework, estimate hydrologic budget components, and refine the conceptual model for the lower Tertiary and Upper Cretaceous aquifer systems.