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Potentiometric surfaces (2013, 2015), groundwater quality (2010–15), and water-level changes (2011–13, 2013–15) in the Sparta-Memphis aquifer in Arkansas

September 28, 2023

The Sparta-Memphis aquifer, present across much of eastern Arkansas, is the second most used groundwater resource in the State, with the Mississippi River Valley alluvial aquifer being the primary groundwater resource. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with Arkansas Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Division, Arkansas Geological Survey, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Union County Water Conservation Board, and the Union County Conservation District, collects groundwater data across the Sparta-Memphis aquifer extent in Arkansas. This report presents water-level data for measurements conducted during two time periods, January–May 2013 and January–June 2015, and discusses water-level altitude changes for the 2011–13 and 2013–15 periods in the Sparta-Memphis aquifer. Accompanying water-level data in this report include groundwater-quality data for the period 2010–15 in the Sparta-Memphis aquifer. Groundwater data can guide ongoing and future groundwater-monitoring efforts and inform management of the aquifers in Arkansas.

Water levels measured at 306 wells from January to May 2013 and 273 wells from January to June 2015 are graphically presented as potentiometric-surface maps. Measurements from 2011, 2013, and 2015 were used in the construction of 2011–13 and 2013–15 water-level change maps. Select long-term hydrographs are included in the report to illustrate water-level changes at the local scale.

Water-level data show the influence of climate, pumping, and conservation and management efforts on groundwater levels. With respect to climate, the study area experienced extreme drought conditions between January 2011 and December 2012. The proximate effects of drought—increased evapotranspiration, decreased recharge, and increased irrigation needs—resulted in water-level declines that were particularly notable in the northern and central portions of the study area.

Groundwater sampled in 2010–15 from 148 wells completed in the Sparta-Memphis aquifer was analyzed for specific conductance, pH, chloride (Cl) concentration, and bromide (Br) concentration. In 2015, groundwater-quality data from 103 wells completed in the Sparta-Memphis aquifer had a median specific conductance of 356 microsiemens per centimeter at 25 degrees Celsius and a median Cl concentration of 9.5 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The data show two areas of higher Cl (greater than 10 mg/L) and higher Br (greater than 0.5 mg/L) concentrations in Union, Calhoun, and Bradley Counties in southern Arkansas and Monroe and Phillips Counties in eastern-central Arkansas. A Cl and Br mixing model indicates the two regions of wells may have different sources of higher salinity. In the greater Union County area, water in most wells may be a mixture of recharge or precipitation and higher salinity groundwater from the Nacatoch aquifer. Water in wells in eastern-central Arkansas may be sourced from aquifers having a higher Cl concentration (and thus, also a higher Cl-to-Br ratio).

Publication Year 2023
Title Potentiometric surfaces (2013, 2015), groundwater quality (2010–15), and water-level changes (2011–13, 2013–15) in the Sparta-Memphis aquifer in Arkansas
DOI 10.3133/sir20235103
Authors Anna M. Nottmeier, Katherine J. Knierim, Phillip D. Hays
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2023-5103
Index ID sir20235103
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center