First Advisor

Robert B. Perkins

Date of Publication

Spring 7-3-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Groundwater -- Oregon -- Columbia County, Water quality -- Oregon -- Columbia County -- Measurement, Hydrogeology -- Oregon -- Columbia County



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 146 pages)


Dutch Canyon is located directly west of the City of Scappoose in Columbia County Oregon. This area is proximate to Highway 30, a major access corridor to downtown Portland, and is experiencing a population increase, which is expected to continue and likely accelerate. As a result, there is growing pressure on water resources. Individual and community efforts to utilize groundwater resources have been hampered by generally poor groundwater yields and water quality concerns outside of the Columbia River corridor and a lack of published hydrogeologic information for the region.

The intent of this study is to identify the water-bearing units present in Dutch Canyon and to characterize water quality within these units. The physical hydrogeology of Dutch Canyon was assessed mainly through the collation of 196 local well reports that contained lithologic information from which individual hydrostratigraphic units were identified and characterized. Hydraulic parameters for individual units were estimated using pump rates and drawdowns provided in select well reports. Water quality for the units identified was assessed through the collection of 48 samples of well, spring, and stream water from Dutch Canyon. Measurements of pH, specific conductivity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, reduction potential, and alkalinity were recorded in the field and samples were analyzed for major ions, arsenic, and stable isotopes.

The major water-bearing units of Dutch Canyon were separated into five physically distinct hydrostratigrapic units: the lower, middle, and upper units of the sedimentary Lower Miocene Scappoose Formation, and the Wapshilla Ridge and Ortley members of the Lower to Middle Miocene Grande Ronde Basalt. Groundwater flow likely occurs in discrete, relatively thin (~2- to 10-m thick) zones within the Grand Ronde Basalt members. These units only occur along the slopes and ridges of Dutch Canyon west of the Portland Hills Fault, which parallels the eastern margin of the study area. The Scappoose Formation units contain clay- and silt-rich layers and lenses that limit the useable aquifer volume and vertical movement of groundwaters. In general, all hydrostratrigraphic units east of the Portland Hills Fault have low transmissivities and water wells completed in each of them are commonly low- yielding wells, though there are some exceptions.

Geochemically, the lower and middle units of the Scappoose Formation were similar to one another with many wells yielding groundwater with high total dissolved solids (TDS) contents (mean TDS = 330 mg L-1; n = 27). Nearly 20% of the wells sampled that were screened in these units (5 of 27) yielded groundwater that exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Secondary (non-enforceable) Drinking Water Regulation standard of 500 mg L-1 TDS. The upper unit of the Scappoose Formation and the overlying Grande Ronde Basalt members generally yield water with lower TDS contents (mean < 200 mg L-1; maximum = 342 mg L-1; n = 20).

Groundwater resources in Dutch Canyon are limited and low well yields are common. The primary water quality concern is saline water, which is generally found in the lower and middle units of the Scappoose Formation near the valley floor. Low recharge rates determined from hydrograph analysis of stream discharge measurements are consistent with the geology and steep terrain of the area and further limit the available groundwater and the degree of flushing of what may be connate waters in the deeper units.


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