Robert B. Perkins

Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology



Physical Description

1 online resource (xvi, 170 pages)


Streamflow -- Oregon -- Mosier, Water levels -- Oregon -- Mosier, Groundwater -- Oregon -- Mosier, Hydrogeology -- Oregon




The town of Mosier, Oregon, is located near the east, dry end of the Columbia River Gorge, and the local area is known for cherry orchards that rely heavily on groundwater for irrigation. The CRBG groundwater system in Mosier has experienced groundwater declines of up to 60 meters due to over-pumping and or commingling. Declining groundwater levels have led to concerns over the sustainability of the resource, as it is the principle water source for irrigation and domestic use. Despite numerous previous studies of groundwater flow in CRBG aquifers here and elsewhere in the Columbia River basin, an aspect that has received relatively little attention is the interaction between groundwater and surface waters at locations where interflow zones are intersected by the surface waters.

The objective of my research is to investigate how CRBG interflow zone exposures in Mosier Creek may be controlling groundwater elevations in the area. The methods used include: (1) geochemical analysis of well cuttings and detailed geologic mapping along area streams to identify interflow zones of individual CRBG flows, (2) analysis of stream discharge data and groundwater elevation data to confirm exchange of groundwater and surface waters, and (3) collection and analyses of 31 water samples from area wells, streams, and springs, to determine if waters from individual CRBG aquifers can be hydrochemically identified and to further constrain understanding of surface and groundwater interactions.

My study confirms that the general elevation of the Pomona Member and Basalt of Lolo interflow zone creek exposure is coincident with the elevation where a change in slope of the decline trend in 2004 is seen in Mosier area well hydrographs. Furthermore, the results of stream discharge data indicated a close connection between drawdown from groundwater pumping during irrigation season and groundwater- surface water interaction. At the time of drawdown in the upper-most CRBG aquifer (Pomona), the stream transitions from gaining to losing water into the groundwater system.

Elemental chemistry data indicates the Frenchman Springs Sentinel Gap aquifer waters are the most evolved waters in this study. Stable isotopic data reinforced this determination as the Sentinel Gap waters are the lightest, or most negative, with regard to δD and δ18O. Sentinel Gap samples were more depleted than other aquifer samples by 4.38 to 6.89 0/100 for δD and 0.39 to 0.59 0/100 for δ18O. The results of the general chemistry and isotope data reveal a more evolved chemical signature in lower watershed groundwater versus a less evolved signature for waters from wells located higher up on the Columbia Hills anticline. This was interpreted to be the result of the major structural features in the area providing for a more regional pathway of recharge in lower watershed groundwaters, versus a more local source of recharge for upper watershed groundwaters. There was also a pronounced commingled signature in the elemental ratios of lower watershed aquifer waters. The suspected mechanism of recharge to lower watershed wells is through younger Cascadian deposits upslope from the local watershed.

The findings of this study reveal the importance of a detailed understanding of CRBG stratigraphy and its relation to surface waters, especially for other areas within the Yakima Fold Belt or Oregon and Washington. Studies that do not consider the influence that individual CRBG flows can have on groundwater-surface water interactions, and the groundwater system as a whole, run the risk of improperly assessing the groundwater resource for a region.

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