The Ogallala Aquifer is a shallow water table aquifer located beneath the Great Plains in the United States. One of the world's largest aquifers, it underlies an area of approximately 174,000 sq mi (450,000 km2) in portions of eight states (South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas). It was named in 1898 by geologist N. H. Darton from its type locality near the town of Ogallala, Nebraska. The aquifer is part of the High Plains Aquifer System, and rests on the Ogallala Formation, which is the principal geologic unit underlying 80% of the High Plains.
About 27% of the irrigated land in the United States overlies the aquifer, which yields about 30% of the ground water used for irrigation in the United States. Since 1950, agricultural irrigation has reduced the saturated volume of the aquifer by an estimated 9%. Depletion is accelerating, with 2% lost between 2001 and 2009 alone. Once depleted, the aquifer will take over 6,000 years to replenish naturally through rainfall.
The aquifer system supplies drinking water to 82% of the 2.3 million people (1990 census) who live within the boundaries of the High Plains study area.
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