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Hydrology of the Oakley Fan Area, south-central Idaho

January 1, 1994

The Oakley Fan area is a broad, crescent-shaped lowland along the southern margin of the Snake River Plain in south-central Idaho. Intensive groundwater development for irrigation has resulted in rapid water-level declines and, as a consequence, designation by the State of four Critical Groundwater Areas. Principal aquifers are in limestone, rhyolite, basalt, and alluvium. Annual water-level declines range from 3 ft to about 5 ft. Recharge to the groundwater system is from infiltration of surface water used for irrigation, precipitation on the surrounding mountains, infiltration of localized runoff, and upward movement of thermal water. Groundwater pumpage during the period 1979-84 averaged 173,000 acre-ft/yr. Surface and groundwater is predominantly a calcium bicarbonate type with variable concentrations of dissolved solids. Comparisons of silica and chloride concentrations and isotopic composition of groundwater were useful in determining areal extent of aquifers and movement of groundwater. A three-dimensional mathematical model of the Oakley Fan area was developed. The aquifer system was simulated in three phases: (1) Average 1979-84 hydrologic conditions, (2) 1910 hydrologic conditions, and (3) 1910-84 hydrologic conditions. Model simulation indicated that, for the period 1945-79, subsurface outflow declined from 327,000 acre-ft/yr to 215,000 acre-ft/yr. Simulated groundwater pumpage during the period 1945-79 was 3,000,000 acre-ft; simulated change in storage was 250,000 acre-ft. Simulations with the model approximate natural conditions and probably can be used to evaluate future changes in the hydrologic system.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1989
Title Hydrology of the Oakley Fan Area, south-central Idaho
DOI 10.3133/wri884065
Authors H. W. Young, G. D. Newton
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 88-4065
Index ID wri884065
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Idaho Water Science Center