In my map there are no rivers and the only water source I have is some small lakes. There supposed to be an aquifer but I haven't come across it yet. How can I find it or increase my chances of finding it?

Are they supposed fill the entire z-level? I have dug a vertical exploratory shaft 100 levels deep but still all I have found so far are stone and metal tiles. Am I supposed to also search for it horizontally? Wiki is not clear on this.

  • Does your embark location include multiple biomes? Oct 16, 2016 at 8:17
  • I am not sure. Is there way to check it?
    – WVrock
    Oct 16, 2016 at 8:18
  • It's easiest to check on the embark screen. Does your area look coherent, or is there a smaller area that looks different than the rest? Oct 16, 2016 at 8:22
  • Since I have already embarked I am not sure how I can go into that screen again. But the map is all green.
    – WVrock
    Oct 16, 2016 at 8:39

2 Answers 2


An aquifer is usually encountered only a few z-levels below the surface, I'd say 6 at most maybe, so if you haven't encountered it by then, it mean it's not there.

There's a possibility you've embarked on a location with two or more different biomes, only one of which holds an aquifer. So your best bet is to just make a lot of short vertical shafts all over your map, until you find it.

  • 2
    That's a good idea, but it can be made a bit more efficient by making the vertical shafts along the borders of the map, instead of all over it. It's unlikely the OP managed to embark in a zone which completely contains a biome, unless his embark area is ridiculously big, and he's been messing with the generation settings, so he should find all the biomes in his embark by digging at the edges.
    – Iker
    Oct 16, 2016 at 10:10
  • Is it possible that the aquifer remained outside of my embark zone while still being in the local area so it is shown as there is an aquifer but there actually isn't in my embark zone?
    – WVrock
    Oct 16, 2016 at 10:39
  • @WVrock That shouldn't be possible, no. Keep in mind, it could very well be a single tile of aquifer right at the border of the map. Oct 16, 2016 at 10:46
  • 3
    It seems there are multiple biomes in my zone. I have managed to find the aquifer layers by probing the edges of the map.
    – WVrock
    Oct 16, 2016 at 13:43
  • @WVrock: In older versions of DF an aquifer covered the entire embark, so if you dug deep enough you would find it. In newer DF versions partial embark aquifers exist, where the aquifer may only cover some of the embark area and may require multiple exploratory shafts to find. Different biomes may or may not have an aquifer, so those biomes may determine the edges of the aquifer. You can (if you get too frustrated) cheat and use DFHACK's reveal command to see where the water (if any) exists on your embark. Less "FUN" that way, though. Oct 27, 2016 at 8:08

Those layers won't ever contain aquifer, so if you're in this layer, you need to dig deeper: - clay (all kinds) - siltstone - mudstone

To see if you're embarked in different biomes, you can look at your surface map and see if tree density changes. Not always, but often one biome will have a very dense forests, while the other won't.

Or you could just start the new embark and check the same place you've embarked before.

In general, once you've reached stone or especially metals, you're past the aquifer depth. The whole point of aquifer is to make those needed materials more difficult to obtain. By the means of fun.

  • The problem with using tree density is that it is only that dense at embark start. Over time trees will increase even in "sparse" biomes until they resemble dense biomes. If your dwarves clear-cut areas, that just increases the problem of identifying biome edges. Oct 29, 2016 at 7:33

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