Geologic Controls on Interaction Between the Edwards and Trinity Aquifers, Balcones Fault System, Texas


Link to Full Text

Download Full Text

Publication Date

January 2008


Faults of the Balcones fault system exert important controls on the groundwater hydrology of the Edwards and Trinity Aquifers, including the following: (i) faults juxtapose permeable and relatively impermeable hydrogeologic units, (ii) the normal fault system causes structural thinning of the Edwards and Trinity Aquifer strata, and (iii) faults provide potential pathways for infiltration of water into the groundwater systems and for lateral and vertical movement of groundwater. We present examples of these structural geologic controls on aquifer properties using data and observations from the Helotes 7.5-minute quadrangle and the Hidden Valley fault exposed in Canyon Lake Gorge. Geologic framework modeling of the Helotes quadrangle illustrates the strong potential for direct communication between the Edwards Group and Glen Rose Formation in this area. The 100+ m displacement of the Haby Crossing fault is responsible for dropping the Edwards Aquifer from hilltop exposures north of the fault to mostly buried (confined) on the south side of the fault. Consequently, the area designated as Edwards Aquifer recharge zone is at its narrowest in this part of the Balcones Fault Zone. The Hidden Valley fault has an estimated 60-70 m of throw (vertical component of displacement) along the approximately 800 m of Upper Glen Rose Limestone exposure at Canyon Lake Gorge. Water ponds on the fault zone in some places, sinks into the fault along other stretches, and discharges laterally from the fault zone in yet another. These examples of locally high permeability of an exhumed fault show the importance of map-scale faults for groundwater flow. They also cast doubt on interpretations that such faults would act as barriers to across-fault flow in cases where such faults juxtapose Glen Rose Limestone with Glen Rose Limestone or the more permeable Edwards Limestone with Glen Rose Limestone. High permeability zones under and near stream channels may serve as fast pathways of communication from the Trinity to Edwards Aquifers. Direct o

Document Type



South Texas Geological Society Bulletin, Vol. 48, no. 8 (2008).