Getting to the Core of the Matter
It’s no secret that western Kansas’ future depends largely on the Ogallala Aquifer, the vast but dwindling store of groundwater that supports agriculture across the High Plains.
Although scientists have monitored Ogallala water levels for years, there’s been a gap in their research. None of the Ogallala’s wells have been “cored,” a lengthy process that entails using a core bit to drill and remove a cylindrical sample from underground, which can provide invaluable data about subsurface structure.
But now scientists from the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas are coring a well in Haskell County. So far, they’ve retrieved nearly 300 feet of core, which is already improving their ability to understand and monitor the aquifer.
“Absent core samples, surprisingly little is known about how groundwater moves through the aquifer,” said KGS geologist Greg Ludvigson. “But these core samples we’re recovering will help us better understand the Ogallala’s layers and how they were deposited. This means we can build better groundwater models so we can better manage whatever water is left.”