Changes in the Potentiometric Surface of the Deep Aquifer in the Joplin Area, Missouri, 1900-Present

Date of Graduation

Fall 1986


Master of Science in Geospatial Sciences


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Committee Chair

Thomas Moeglin


The Joplin area is defined for this study to include all of Jasper and Newton Counties in southwest Missouri. A majority of the municipalities in these two counties rely on deep wells for their public water supplies. These deep wells tap the Cambrian and Ordovician age units which are collectively referred to as the deep aquifer. Water quality in the deep aquifer in the Joplin area is threatened principally by the downward seepage of contaminated waters from the abandoned lead and zinc mines in the overlaying Mississippian units. The lead and zinc mining which took place in the area and the associated changes in the populations of the two counties have caused fluctuations in the potentiometric surface of the deep aquifer during the first part of this century. Fluctuations in the potentiometric surface since the 1950's are related to changes in the total populations of the urban and rural areas of the two counties. The regional gradient of the potentiometric surface of the deep aquifer is to the north and northwest; the highest groundwater elevations in the study area occur in southeast Newton County and the lowest groundwater elevations occur near Joplin and along the western edges of Jasper and Newton Counties. Localized drawdowns are expected to worsen because the populations of these two counties are expected to grow slowly and steadily through the rest of the Twentieth and into the next century, causing water-supply problems for deep well users. It is recommended that future attempts to assure adequate supplies of acceptable quality groundwater from the deep aquifer focus on: 1) the education, cooperation, and coordination of public, state, and local efforts to protect this resourse; 2) more frequent measuring and mapping of the potentimetric surface to define areas where problems of interference between deep wells are likely to occur; 3) Planning for alternate or supplemental water supplies in areas where large drawdowns create water recovery problems; and 4) establishing new well-construction standards to prevent additional leakage of contaminated waters into the deep aquifer.

Subject Categories

Earth Sciences


© Jeffrey A Schloss