GEONEWS Archives

Investigating Groundwater in Montana informs State Water Policy Decisions

This 3D model details the complex network of more than 2,000 miles of irrigation ditches in the Gallatin Valley, as well as how the groundwater flows in the area. Much of the groundwater in the valley is replenished by the unlined ditches, which are largely credited for maintaining groundwater levels in the area despite rapid urban and suburban development and irrigation practice changes. Groundwater in the valley flows north and west toward Nixon Gulch. The Ground Water Investigation Program at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology (GWIP) seeks to provide answers to communities about the status of local groundwater. GWIP researches pressing groundwater issues selected by the Montana Ground Water Assessment Steering Committee, which was legislatively authorized by the Montana State Legislature. GWIP examines such questions as groundwater/surface-water interactions and stream depletion, changing aquifer recharge by improved efficiency in irrigation methods, hydrologic effects of land-use changes, and water-quality impacts from septic tank density. Earthzine

Published on Sunday, 21 February 2016,


Track Parrot pollutionDeep in the heart of Butte: A special report — Parrot Plume: What you should know

Below the center of Butte flows water tainted with poisons drawn from a mass of mining and smelting waste that has been a pollution problem for more than a century.

The deadly bright-blue plume “is the most contaminated mine water in the state of Montana,” hydrogeologist Joe Griffin says.

No one argues that point. But a raging dispute centers on what to do about it — and about the tailings from the Parrot mine and smelter that are feeding the deadly brew of metals-laced water.


Monitoring Gallatin Valley's goundwater

Monitoring the Gallatin Valley's ground water

Research hydrologist Tom Michalek describes test wells and water table monitoring at a site near Bozeman. Data from the test wells are used to model the interaction between land use, surface water and ground water in the Gallatin Basin.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle By Troy Carter, • July 6,2015 Chronicle


Exempt well ruling hasn't starved development in the county – yet

Water is arguably Montana's most precious natural resource, and it is undeniably essential to the local economy.

But the rain and melting snows in the mountains that feed the state's streams and rivers are only half the story. The unseen groundwater aquifers below our feet are the other.

Gallatin County's aquifer level has been affected by the significant changes in how the land above is used. Key among those changes have been farmers' switch from flood irrigation to pivoting or wheel-line sprinklers and domestic housing and commercial real estate development.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle By Troy Carter, Chronicle Staff Writer • July 5, 2015


Jurassic starfish Jurassic starfish discovery in south-central Montana wows researchers

“What you found is an extraordinary occurrence,” Tom Guensburg, interim dean of the Physical Science Division at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill., wrote to the MBMG's Jay Gunderson after investigating the site last month. “It could be the most diverse starfish fauna known from the Jurassic, a time when modern starfish orders make their earliest known appearances. This is good stuff.”

Billings GazetteJuly 05, 2015 6:00 am  •  By Brett French


Bitterroot study area

Groundwater study: State hydrogeologists continue research on Bitterroot Valley aquifer

The MBMG GWIP hydrogeologists have been working in the Hamilton area for the past year to gather information on the area's groundwater. Their findings are expected to be available in a public report released sometime in 2016.

Ravalli Republic newsFebruary 18, 2015 • By Perry Backus


measuring Bitterrot RiverHydrogeologists to conduct water study in Hamilton area

Ravalli County commissioners gave the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology the OK to pursue how growth is affecting ground and surface water levels.

POSTED: 9:10 PM Feb 18 2015/UPDATED: 11:29 PM Feb 18 2015
• By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com


State drilling to test Big Sky’s water supply

Well sites At the behest of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Water Resource Division, the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology is leading a Big Sky study to determine the amount of groundwater available in the Meadow Village area by drilling andmapping out the complex bedrock geology that determines the groundwater flow system.

Part of MBMG, the Ground Water Investigation Program is overseeing 17 wells being drilled to monitor both water levels and water quality in the meadow’s alluvial aquifer, an underground natural water source that stores groundwater adjacent to the west fork of the Gallatin River.

Understanding this aquifer’s characteristics and capacity to hold water is imperative since it’s the primary water supply for residents and businesses in the Meadow Village and Town Center, according to Kirk Waren, Senior Hydrogeologist with MBMG.

“The geology here has limitations to the good, fresh water you can get out of the system,” Waren said. “That’s a fact.”

Exploring Big Sky Posted November 4, 2014 • By Joseph T. O’Connor — Explore Big Sky Managing Editor


Erwin Bridge fishing access site west of Belgrade

Groundwater model predicts less water in Gallatin River

Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/Chronicle

The Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Groundwater Investigation Program has spent five years measuring and modeling the surface water and the behavior of groundwater beneath about 19 square miles surrounding Four Corners.

Bozeman ChronicleLAURA LUNDQUIST, Chronicle Staff Writer • Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2014


101 Grand Avenue, BillingsMBMG's new digs in Billings.

Montana Tech has purchased an office building in downtown Billings, Montana to house the Billing branch office of the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology (MBMG). The MBMG has rented office space on the campus of Montana State University-Billings for the past 15 years. The purchase of the new building was approved by the Montana Board of Regents at their November meeting.

The approximately 6,026 square foot building is located at 101 Grand Avenue, right next to Billings Senior High School. The office officialy opened on May 30th. The Billings office currently has nine professional staff members along with several students from MSU-Billings and Rocky Mountain College who will work in the building. MBMG currently has projects in every county in Montana; the Billings office typically addresses geologic ahd hydrogeologic issues throughout central and eastern Montana, including energy development, agriculture/irrigatin, and groundwater availability.


Zimmerman Park -the Rims rock slides"It's kind of like predicting an earthquake" The geology behind the Rims' rock slides

“Mother Nature always wants to flatten the Earth, to put it in ’layman's terms,” said Jay Gunderson, a research geologist with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology’s Billings office. “Erosion always takes over.”...

May 13, 2014 8:00 pm  •  By Mike Ferguson Billings Gazette


MBMG announces a new Ground Water Investigation Program Leader

 Ginette in the fieldAssistant Curator of our Mineral Museum, and then as a Senior Research Hydrogeologist–and was one of the leaders in the original work that got GWIP started.

John Wheaton, her predecessor, has set the bar pretty high, but we know she will lead us to great new places.

She will start her new position on February 1st, 2014.

Congratulations, Ginette!


State legislators, others tour Gallatin Valley water resources

Bozeman ChroniclePosted: Saturday, August 17, 2013 12:15 am • JODI HAUSEN, Chronicle Staff Writer

Gallatin RiverThere are more water rights in the Gallatin Valley basin than there is water to supply the people who hold those rights. That's one of the messages area water court officials wanted to get across to state legislators and others who attended a tour of the Gallatin River watershed Friday.

The Gallatin River flows as local ranchers, conservationists, lawmakers and geologists from the Gallatin Valley area gather near the Erwin Bridge
fishing access site west of Belgrade on Friday, Aug. 16, to assess water levels and discuss future matters on water usage and water rights.

Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/Chronicle


County leaders evaluate water levels along Gallatin River

NBC/Ktvm newsNBC Montana has been following the latest facts about irrigation issues in the Gallatin Valley all summer. We toured the Gallatin River with lawmakers and conservationists to get a first hand update on water levels and drought conditions on the river.

GallatinLawmakers evaluated sections of the river from the Gallatin Gateway to Four Corners. While out on the river we could see how in some areas, water levels were lower.

Tom Michalek-MBMG HydrogeologistTom Michalek is a hydrogeologist at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology in Butte. Michalek told us some people in the area are having issues getting enough water to support their products.

"When you have less water, some people don't get the water they need," said Michalek.

Eric Turcio

By Eric Turcio, Reporter, eturcio@ktvm.com
POSTED: 5:01 PM Aug 16 2013 UPDATED: 6:17 PM Aug 16 2013


Ringing RocksRock of Ages — scientists are still pondering the mystery of Butte's Ringing Rocks

      Claudia Rapkoch interviews MBMG's Kaleb Scarberry regarding this geologic phenomena!

Montana’s geographic wonders have long inspired musicians and songwriters, but an ancient anomaly allows even the least musically inclined among us to be a rock star. The only instrument you need is a hammer.

The Ringing Rocks, located roughly 20 miles east of Butte is a symphonic wonder that has been millions of years in the making. Having lived in Butte for almost 20 years, we’d heard about the rocks for many years but not until recently did we bundle up our young son for an afternoon of outdoor adventure. After all, what could be more fun for a four-year-old than your parents encouraging you to play with rocks?

Published in Montana Magazine April/March 2013
Story by Claudia Rapkoch
Photos by Kenton Rowe


State drilling to test Big Sky’s water supply

At the behest of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Water Resource Division, the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology is leading a Big Sky study to determine the amount of groundwater available in the Meadow Villa .

Part of MBMG, the Ground Water Investigation Program is overseeing 17 wells being drilled to monitor both water levels and water quality in the meadow’s alluvial aquifer, an underground natural water source that stores groundwater adjacent to the west fork of the Gallatin River.

Understanding this aquifer’s characteristics and capacity to hold water is imperative since it’s the primary water supply for residents and businesses in the Meadow Village and Town Center, according to Kirk Waren, Senior Hydrogeologist with MBMG.

“The geology here has limitations to the good, fresh water you can get out of the system,” Waren said. “That’s a fact.”

Exploring Big Sky Posted • November 4, 2014 By Joseph T. O’ConnorExplore Big Sky Managing Editor


Groundwater model predicts less water in Gallatin River

Erwin Bridge fishing access site west of BelgradeThe Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Groundwater Investigation Program has spent five years measuring and modeling the surface water and the behavior of groundwater beneath about 19 square miles surrounding Four Corners.

Bozeman ChronicleLAURA LUNDQUIST, Chronicle Staff Writer
• Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2014

 

Photo — Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/Chronicle


101 Grand Avenue, BillingsMBMG's new digs in Billings.

Montana Tech has purchased an office building in downtown Billings, Montana to house the Billing branch office of the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology (MBMG). The MBMG has rented office space on the campus of Montana State University-Billings for the past 15 years. The purchase of the new building was approved by the Montana Board of Regents at their November meeting.

The approximately 6,026 square foot building is located at 101 Grand Avenue, right next to Billings Senior High School. The office officialy opened on May 30th. The Billings office currently has nine professional staff members along with several students from MSU-Billings and Rocky Mountain College who will work in the building. MBMG currently has projects in every county in Montana; the Billings office typically addresses geologic ahd hydrogeologic issues throughout central and eastern Montana, including energy development, agriculture/irrigating, and groundwater availability.


Pit safety talk draws crowd - sloughing, water level among residents' concerns

A sloughing of the southeast corner of the Berkeley PitPhoto by Walter Hinick
A sloughing of the southeast corner of the Berkeley Pit that occurred on Feb. 8 can be seen in this photo taken Tuesday 3/19/13. The wall has been the site of three small slides in the past year.

 

Montana Standard • Posted March 20, 2013  —  By John Grant Emeigh

 


Sliding pit walls raise concern

Berkley pit Photo by Walter Hinik, Montana StandardPhoto by Walter Hinick
Duaime, a hydrogeologist, said it was one of the largest landslides recorded in the pit, and it forced a significant wave.

Similar landslides — although on a smaller scale — continue to occur in the pit, Duaime said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, reported three landslides that have created wave action over the last seven months in the pit, documents show. The most recent occurred on Feb. 8, 2013.

Montana Standard • Posted March 10, 2013 —   By John Grant Emeigh