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Hydrogeologic framework of the Big Lost River Basin, south-central Idaho, chap. A of Zinsser, L.M., ed., Characterization of water resources in the Big Lost River Basin, south-central Idaho

September 23, 2021

Surface-water and groundwater resources in the Big Lost River Basin of south-central Idaho are extensively interconnected; this interchange affects and is affected by water-resource management for irrigated agriculture and other uses in the basin. Concerns from water users regarding declining groundwater levels, declining streamflows, and drought helped motivate an updated evaluation of water resources in the Big Lost River Basin. The hydrogeologic framework presented in this report provides a conceptual basis for understanding groundwater resources in the Big Lost River Basin and comprises three major parts: (1) conceptual description of four hydrogeologic units, (2) development of a three-dimensional hydrogeologic framework model representing the spatial distribution of the hydrogeologic units, and (3) a description of groundwater occurrence and movement. This hydrogeologic framework represents the first of three planned reports describing water resources in the Big Lost River Basin; subsequent reports are intended to present a groundwater budget for the basin and to describe the results of a series of events measuring gains to and losses from streamflow in the Big Lost River. This report was prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Water Resources.

The Big Lost River Basin has four hydrogeologic units. First, the Quaternary unconsolidated sediments unit comprises the basin-fill alluvial aquifer and generally is used within 250 feet of the land surface. The Quaternary unconsolidated sediments unit is spatially heterogeneous, with locally confining conditions in some areas, and is the most heavily used hydrogeologic unit in the basin. Second, the Paleozoic sedimentary rocks unit, composed primarily of carbonates with some siliciclastic rocks, represents the major bedrock aquifer and contributes subsurface recharge at the margins of the alluvial aquifer. Third, the Tertiary volcanic rocks unit, composed primarily of andesite and dacite with lesser tuff, is locally important to water production, particularly in faulted and fractured zones. The Paleozoic sedimentary rocks hydrogeologic unit occurs at the valley margins and underlies tributaries throughout the basin, whereas the Tertiary volcanic rocks hydrogeologic unit primarily occurs in uplands in the western one-half of the basin. Fourth, the Quaternary basalt rocks unit consists of multiple basalt flows that are interbedded with the Quaternary unconsolidated sediments unit in the southern end of the Big Lost River Basin and contains at least three water-bearing zones. Insights gained from this updated hydrogeologic framework will help inform current water-resource management in the Big Lost River Basin.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Hydrogeologic framework of the Big Lost River Basin, south-central Idaho, chap. A of Zinsser, L.M., ed., Characterization of water resources in the Big Lost River Basin, south-central Idaho
DOI 10.3133/sir20215078A
Authors Lauren M. Zinsser
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2021-5078
Index ID sir20215078A
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Idaho Water Science Center

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