What is an aquifer?

An aquifer is a geologic material (rocks and sediments) capable of delivering groundwater in usable quantities.

What aquifers are within Utah?

Within Utah there are three major aquifer areas: Colorado Plateau, Basin and Range, and the Central Mountains. The Central Wasatch is part of the Central Mountains aquifer area.

The Central Mountains region of northeastern and central Utah consists of mountainous terrain, stream valleys, and alluvial basins. It includes the north-south-trending Wasatch Range, composed mainly of pre-Cenozoic sedimentary and Cenozoic silicic plutonic rocks, and the east-west-trending Uinta Mountains, composed mainly of Precambrian sedimentary and metamorphic rocks (541 million years old and older).

Source: UGS

Alluvial aquifers from rivers and floodplains occur throughout the Central Mountains region in thin deposits of Quaternary-age valley fill, like Ogden Valley and Round Valley. Aquifers are also present in sedimentary rocks (i.e., limestone and sandstone), although less commonly. (Source: Utah Geological Survey)

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Explore the map below which depicts three different types of recharge areas and one discharge area as defined by:

  • Bedrock recharge areas – Generally considered to occupy the primary recharge zone but may locally discharge large amounts of water at springs or seeps. 
  • Primary Recharge – Basin or valley-fill area with a significant downward groundwater gradient lacking confining layers thicker than 20 feet.
  • Secondary Recharge – Basin or valley-fill area with a downward groundwater gradient with a confining layer thicker than 20 feet. 
  • Discharge -Basin or valley-fill area where the groundwater gradient is upward.