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Hydrogeology (hydro- meaning water, and -geology meaning the study of the Earth)
is the branch of geology that deals with the distribution and movement of
groundwater in the soil and rocks. It is science to study water movement and
distribution in subsurface geologic formation
?What Is Groundwater
Groundwater is water stored under the surface of the ground in the pore spaces
between rock or soil aggregates. It occurs in two zones: an unsaturated zone where
most of the pore spaces are filled with air, and a deeper, saturated zone in which all
the pore spaces are filled with water. Groundwater is part from hydrologic cycle

Formation of groundwater
Hydrologic cycle
The term hydrologic cycle refers to the movement of water above, on, and below
the Earths surface. The concept of the hydrologic cycle is important to understanding
the occurrence of water in the natural environment and to the development and
management of water supplies. The hydrologic cycle involves a number of key
elements ( Figure 1). Precipitation occurs as rain, snow, and hail. Precipitation wets
vegetation and land surfaces and then infiltrates into the ground. Infiltration rates vary
widely, depending on land use, the character and moisture content of the soil, and the
intensity and duration of precipitation. Rates can vary from as much as 1 in/hr in
mature forests on sandy soils to 0.1 in/hr in clayey and silty soils to zero in paved
areas. When and if the rate of precipitation exceeds the rate of infiltration, overland
flow or runoff occurs. Water infiltrates slowly through the soil zone to replenish
groundwater resources . Water from runoff and from groundwater discharge reaches
streams and rivers and eventually moves to the oceans. Evaporation from surface
water bodies and transpiration from plants completes the cycle by returning water in
the form of vapor to the atmosphere where it condenses as clouds. The oceans are the
principal source of evaporated water because of their vast areas of exposed water
surface. The oceans contain about 94% of the Earths water (Heath, 1989).
The hydrologic cycle begins with the evaporation of water from the surface of the
ocean. As moist air is lifted, it cools and water vapor condenses to form clouds.
Moisture is transported around the globe until it returns to the surface as precipitation.
Once the water reaches the ground, one of two processes may occur; 1) some of the
water may evaporate back into the atmosphere or 2) the water may penetrate the
surface and become groundwater. Groundwater either seeps its way to into the oceans,
rivers, and streams, or is released back into the atmosphere through transpiration. The
rest of water that remains on the earth's surface is runoff, which run into lakes, rivers
and streams and is carried back to the oceans, where the cycle begins again Fig (1).

Figure 1

Hydrologic cycle
2 Groundwater distribution

Unsaturated zone ( Soil water )

Saturated zone

3- Groundwater aquifers (or groundwater bearing formations)

Aquifer Definition
Rocks or soils that have enough voids to contain groundwater and has the ability to
allow water to flow through them in significant quantities are termed aquifers.

Groundwater aquifers types

Groundwater aquifers divided into the following types:

1 Unconfined Aquifer (Fig 2)

Water well
Water level

Fig 2
Unconfined aquifer, have the following characteristics

The ground water partially fills the formation

There are no overlying "confining beds" of low permeability to physically
isolate the groundwater system.
The ground water surface is at atmospheric pressure

Due to the above characteristics, the water surface (water table surface) is free to
fluctuate up and down, depending on the recharge/discharge rate. Also, the height
of the water table will be the same as the water level in a well constructed in that
unconfined aquifer.

Confined Aquifers or artesian aquifers

A confined aquifer has the following characteristics
- The confined aquifer is sandwiched between two layers of impermeable formation
such as clay called confining beds
- This two confining beds impede the movement of water into and out of the aquifer
- Because of the confining beds, ground water in these aquifers is under high pressure.
- Because of this high pressure, the water level in a well will rise to a level higher
than the top of the aquifer.
The water level in the well is referred to as the potentiometric surface
- In some cases the water level is above the ground surface, in such case the well is
called a flowing artesian well. (Fig 3)

Fig 3

Perched aquifers
Water system formed above the original groundwater system due to formation of clay
layer above the original water surface (Fig 4)

Fig 4

Physical Groundwater aquifer properties


Hydraulic head
Hydraulic gradient
Specific yield

Porosity (n) it is the amount of pore space between soil particles or within a
fractured rock. It quantified by measuring the volume of voids to volume of solids
vv/vs .
Permeability (m/d) It is measure of the formation ability to transmit the water
through it. It is very important to know that, it is an expression of the connectedness
of the pores. For instance, clay has a high porosity (it has lots of pore space between
its constituent grains), but has a low permeability (this pores are not connected).it is
Property which does not depend on the viscosity and density of the fluid
Hydraulic conductivity (K) it is the permeability of the formation taking the fluid
viscosity and density into account.

The permeability of an aquifer determines it's ability to hold and transmit

water. It will be discussed further.
Hydraulic head or pressure head
Its the water column height (mm or cm) above well bottom
Elevation head
Is the height of well bottom above see level
The water level or total hydraulic head of a fluid
Is the sum of pressure head and elevation head ( Figure 5). The pressure head is the
equivalent gauge pressure of a column of water at the base of the piezometer, and the
elevation head is the relative potential energy in terms of an elevation. The Head
Equation, a simplified form of the Bernoulli Principle for incompressible fluids, can
be expressed as:
H = elevation head (z) + h (pressure head) (Fig 5)

Sea level

(Fig 5)
h is the water level (Length in m ), also known as the velocity head.
is the pressure head, in terms of the elevation of the water column above the
the piezometer bottom (Length in m ), and
z is the elevation at the piezometer bottom (Length in m )
In an example with a 400 m deep piezometer, with an elevation of 1000 m, and a
depth to water of 100 m: z = 600 m, = 300 m, and h = 900 m.
Hydraulic gradient
The hydraulic gradient is a head difference between two hydraulic head
measurements over the length of the flow path. It determines the quantity of
discharge. The hydraulic gradient can be calculated between two piezometers as:

i is the hydraulic gradient (dimensionless),
dh is the difference between two hydraulic heads (Length, usually in m ), and
dl is the flow path length between the two piezometers (Length, usually in m )
(Fig 6)




(Fig 6)

Transmissivity (T) is the volume of water flowing through a cross-sectional area of an
aquifer that is 1 ft. x the aquifer thickness (b), under a hydraulic gradient of 1 ft./ 1 ft.
in a given amount of time (usually a day). Transmissivity (T) is actually equal to
hydraulic conductivity(K) times aquifer thickness (b). T = Kb. We can also conclude
that transmissivity is expressed as ft2/day because if T = Kb, then T = (ft./day)(ft./1).
It is difficult to understand the differences between "T" and "K" when first introduced
to these terms - the illustration below should hopefully bring it all together. Fig (7)

Fig 7

Specific yield (Sy) indicates the amount of water released from unit surface area due
to lowering the water table in an unconfined aquifer by one unit ( 1 m or cm) .
The volume of water in an aquifer is calculated as the storativity or storage
coefficient, which has the same value as the specific yield in water table aquifers but
not under confined conditions. The storativity is defined as the volume of water
released from a unit volume of aquifer for a unit decline in head. When water is

pumped from a confined aquifer, it causes a lowering of water levels, but this
represents a reduction in pressure and not the aquifer
Specific storage (Ss) and its depth-integrated equivalent, storativity (S=Ssb), are
indirect aquifer properties (they cannot be measured directly); they indicate the
amount of groundwater released from storage due to a unit depressurization of a
confined aquifer. They are fractions between 0 and 1.
Specific yield
Is the amount of water discharged/ total water volume in the pumped area [aquifr vol.]