Sandstone-body geometry and hydrostratigraphy of the northern High Plains Aquifer system, USA

Jesse T. Korus, R. M. Joeckel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Cenozoic sandstones of the North American interior host the voluminous High Plains Aquifer (HPA) system, which supplies water to c. 30% of all irrigated farmland in the USA. Sandstone bodies in the HPA have eluded characterization because the correlation of discrete sedimentary units between boreholes is exceedingly difficult or even impossible. Our work, however, demonstrates that sandstone-body geometry can be characterized at regional, if not basinal scales, using multi-resolution methods, including remote sensing, outcrop mapping, borehole geophysics, and airborne electromagnetics. These and other scientific advances suggest that the HPA contains a complex assemblage of fluvial sandstone bodies with predictable dimensions. Hydrologic property contrasts between these sandstones and the enclosing, finer-grained strata define a complex arrangement of hydrostratigraphic units. We present this evolving understanding of HPA hydrostratigraphy in a new conceptual model that aids in the understanding of water-supply challenges. We maintain that sustaining well yields and aquifer productivity into the future depends on mapping the architecture of sandstone bodies in the subsurface using advanced techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberqjegh2021-171
JournalQuarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 8 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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