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U.S. Geological Survey

Publication Date

January 2004


Two finite-element ground-water flow models were developed for the Edwards–Trinity aquifer system, west-central Texas, to gain a better understanding of the flow system; one ground-water flow model was developed at a large scale to simulate the regional system and contiguous, hydraulically connected units, and one model was constructed at a smaller more detailed scale to simulate the most active areas of the system. The study area is divided into four geographic subareas: the Trans-Pecos (9,750 square miles), the Edwards Plateau (23,750 square miles), the Hill Country (5,500 square miles), and the Balcones fault zone (3,000 square miles). The major aquifers within the study area are the Edwards–Trinity aquifer underlying the Trans-Pecos and Edwards Plateau, the Trinity aquifer underlying the Hill Country, and the Edwards aquifer in the Balcones fault zone. Hydraulically connected aquifers include the High Plains aquifer north of the Edwards Plateau, and the Cenozoic Pecos alluvium aquifer adjacent to both the Trans-Pecos and the Edwards Plateau along the Pecos River. Minor contiguous aquifers include the Dockum, Ellenburger–San Saba, Marble Falls, Hickory, and Lipan, which is adjacent to the Colorado River in Tom Green and Concho Counties, Texas. The ground-water flow equations solved by the finite-element method are based on conservation of mass and energy. The equation for ground-water flow assumes laminar flow through a porous media. In places, the Edwards–Trinity aquifer system is a fractured karst system in which ground water flows through caverns and other features of secondary porosity development. The regional and subregional models were constructed to synthesize the known hydrologic boundaries and geologic structures into a heterogeneous continuum model of the karst ground-water flow system, rather than simulate the flow through specific fractures and caverns. A heterogeneous continuum or equivalent porous media approach uses an effective transmissivity and anisotropy for each element of the models. The


USGS, Vol. 1421-C (2004).