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Summary of hydrologic testing, wellbore-flow data, and expanded water-level and water-quality data, 2011–15, Fort Irwin National Training Center, San Bernardino County, California

October 30, 2019

In view of the U.S. Army’s historical reliance and plans to increase demands on groundwater to supply its operations at Fort Irwin National Training Center (NTC), California, coupled with the continuing water-level declines in some developed groundwater basins as a result of pumping, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the U.S. Army, evaluated the water resources, including water quality and potential groundwater supply, of undeveloped basins in the NTC. Previous work in the three developed groundwater basins—Langford, Bicycle, and Irwin—provided information to support water-resources management of those basins. During 2009–12, the USGS installed 41 wells at the NTC; 34 wells were at 14 single- or multiple-well monitoring sites, and 7 wells were long-screen test wells. The majority of the wells were installed in previously undeveloped or minimally developed groundwater basins (Cronise, Red Pass, the Central Corridor area, Superior, Goldstone, and Nelson Basins). During 2012–15, the USGS tested hydrologic properties at 32 wells in 8 basins to help characterize the aquifer system. This report presents data and analyses from core samples; slug tests and single-well aquifer tests; coupled measurements of wellbore flow, water levels, and water-quality constituents; and results from two-dimensional numerical modeling. This information provides a basis for developing and constraining basin-scale hydrogeologic framework and groundwater-flow models to further evaluate water resources in each groundwater basin.

Core samples were tested for vertical saturated hydraulic conductivity, physical properties, and particle-size distribution. Vertical saturated hydraulic conductivities of the cores ranged from less than 0.00001 to 18.13 feet per day, and porosities ranged from 0.15 to 0.56. These physical properties and particle-size analyses indicate the high degree of heterogeneity of the hydrogeologic deposits penetrated by the boreholes. Horizontal hydraulic conductivities estimated from slug tests in 22 monitoring wells in 6 basins (Cronise, Central Corridor area, Goldstone, Langford, Bicycle, and Nelson Basins) ranged from less than 0.1 to 40 feet per day. Results of the aquifer tests at six test wells in the Goldstone, Nelson, and Superior Basins indicate hydraulic conductivities ranged from 0.37 to 66 feet per day; associated transmissivity values ranged from 130 to 28,000 feet squared per day. Wellbore-flow data, collected from the six test wells under unpumped and pumped conditions, generally showed downward movement of water. Flow data collected under unpumped conditions indicate groundwater entered the well through the upper part of the screened interval and exited to aquifer zones in the lower part of the screened interval at rates ranging from 1 to 3 gallons per minute. Flow data collected under pumping conditions show increased flow downward in the test wells, indicating higher yields from deeper aquifers.

Water levels, measured periodically between 2011 and 2015, remained stable during this period in the majority of the wells measured since 2011, except at two monitoring sites in developed basins (Bicycle and Langford). Vertical hydraulic gradients were generally low throughout the NTC, but ranged from –0.0003 to 0.27 during the summer of 2015. Multiple-well monitoring sites in Bicycle, Central Corridor area, Cronise, Goldstone, Nelson, and Superior Basins, had downward vertical gradients.

Groundwater in wells in Nelson and Superior Basins, and wells BLA5, CCT1, and GOLD2 #2, was characterized as sodium-bicarbonate water, whereas groundwater from the remaining wells in Goldstone Basin was characterized as sodium-chloride water and Cronise Basin, and well LL04 was characterized by sodium-sulfate water. Total dissolved solids (TDS) ranged from 285 to 13,400 milligrams per liter (mg/L) TDS and chloride concentrations ranged from 19 to 1,030 mg/L chloride, with lowest concentrations of each in groundwater from Superior and Nelson Basins and highest concentrations in Cronise Basin. Nitrate plus nitrite as nitrogen ranged from less than 0.040 mg/L in groundwater from Cronise and Goldstone Basins to about 20 mg/L in Nelson Basin. Groundwater from wells in Nelson Basin was isotopically light, whereas groundwater samples from wells CRTH1, CRTH2, and LL04 were isotopically heavier and plotted along an evaporative trend line. No measurable tritium was detected in groundwater from 13 wells sampled in 2015, indicating that groundwater was recharged prior to 1952. Measured carbon-14 (14C) activities in groundwater from four wells sampled in 2015 ranged from about 7.9 to 23.5 percent modern carbon and had apparent (uncorrected) ages of 11,970–20,980 years. Arsenic concentrations were above the maximum contaminant level of 10 micrograms per liter in groundwater from all wells, except those in Goldstone Basin and the two deepest wells in Langford Basin (LL04); likewise, fluoride concentrations were above the California maximum contaminant level of 2 mg/L in groundwater from most wells, except those in Goldstone and Superior Basins, the middle well in Langford Basin, middle and deep wells in two locations in Cronise Basin, and two wells in Nelson Basin.

Wellbore flow was simulated for each well by using an integrated-flow analysis tool, AnalyzeHOLE, to evaluate aquifer properties and heterogeneity. Horizontal layers in the model (hydrogeologic units) were defined by lithostratigraphic‐geophysical units, interpreted from lithologic and geophysical logs for each well, and were adjusted during calibration. The saturated hydraulic conductivities derived from the calibrated simulations ranged from less than 0.01 to 60 feet per day in Nelson, Goldstone, and Superior Basins.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Summary of hydrologic testing, wellbore-flow data, and expanded water-level and water-quality data, 2011–15, Fort Irwin National Training Center, San Bernardino County, California
DOI 10.3133/sir20195091
Authors Joseph M. Nawikas, Jill N. Densmore, David R. O'Leary, David C. Buesch, John A. Izbicki
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2019-5091
Index ID sir20195091
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center