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Glaciers and other ice
Ground water
Soll moimre


Porosity and Permeability
the percentage of rock or sedimcnt that consists of
voids or openings, is a measurement of a rodis ability to hold
water. Most rocks can hold some water. Some sedimentary
rocks, such as sandstone, conglomerate, and many limestones,
tend to have a high porosity and therefore can hold a considerable amount of water. A deposit of loose sand may have a


Chapter 17

The Water Table
Responding to the pull of graviry, water percolates down in
ihe ground through the soil and through cracks and pores
the rock. Scvcral kilometers down in the crust percolati
stops. With increasing depth, sedimentary rock pores tend
be closed by increaing amounts of cement and by the weight
of the overlying rock. Moreover, sedimentary r o d overlia
igneous and metamorphic crystalline basement rock, which

Within the vadose zone. The capillary fringe is generally iws than a meter hi&. If the perched wzar table inrhr l. Downward percolatlon of water Is impeded by the less permeable shale.Perched byater table Fbum 17. (The water-loving plants of swamps and marshes are an exception.vivc. ground water would fill the lower part of rhe well.2). Some of the water in the capillary fringe has been drawn or wi&d upward from the water table (much like water rising up a paper towel if the corner is dipped in water).) A puchsd rsacs &Ie is the top of a body of ground mrer separated from the main water table beneath it by a zone that L not satunted (figure 17.1A). and ground water Bows out of the saturated zone into these surface depressions.2 Perched water tables above lenses of less permeable shale within a large body of sandstone.d *I Cmund wnrrr 4s . Above the water table there is a zone that is g c n e d y unsaturated and is referred to w the d a r zone (figure 17.1A). Ground water also flows into mines and quarries cut below the water table ( f i r e 17. whereas most of the capillary fringe water is due to fluctuations in the level of the water table. capillary action causes watcr to be held a b m the water table. but may be much thidkct in fine-grained sediments and thinner in grained sediments such as sand and gravel. where finegrained day minerals hold water and mnke it available for plant growth. If a well were drilled downward into this zone. The water level inside the well marks the upper surface of the saturated zone: this surface is the water table. Plant roots generally obtain their water from the bdt of soil moisture near the top of the Mdose zone. It may form as ground watcr & above alms of less p c d e shale within a more purrnabsPod4such as sandstone. The water level at the surface of most lakes and rivers coincides with the water table. The capilhyfingc is a transition zone with higher moisture wntent at the blsc of the vadose zone just above the water table. The subsurface zone in which all rock openings are filled with water is called the uturated zonc (figure 17. Most riven and lakes intersect the saturated zone.18). Most plants *drownnif their roots are covered by water in the saturated zone: plants need both water and air in soil pores to su:. Rivers and lakw occupy low places on the land surface.

water within the upper part of the saturated zone tends to move downward following the slope of the water table (figure 17.Vadose zone The Movement of I Ground Water Cornparcd to the rapid flow of water in surface streams. ~~~~~d . Figure 17. rauie.3) due to the i t 4 water supply to a well.3 The circulation of ground water in the satuMovement of ground water beneath a sloping water table in unlformly permeable rated zone is not confined to a shallow layer rock. The water perched above a shale lens an provide a limbeds of rivcrs and lakes at the surface (figure 17. move hundreds of fcct vcrtically downwatd surface. Because it moves in response to differences in water pressure and elevation. a line of springs an form along the upper contact of the before rising again to discharge as a spring or to seep into the shale lens. See box 17. 426 Chapter I7 . most ground water rnovcs relatively slowly through rock underground.1 for Darcy's Law... . it is an unrdiablc long-term supply combined effects of gravity and the slopc of thc water table. Near the surface the ground water tends to flow parallel to the sloping water bcncath the water table.3).

so F haia higher head than G ... .n. Note that underground water may move . and water moves to G. .

and millennia refer to the time required for ground water to flow from the recharge area to the discharge area. Flgurc 17. that i drilled into the ground to penetrate an aquikr within rated ZOQC (@art 17.maybe~adpcrm&~ m ~ a f a i r l y d c p c r P d r b t c ~ mndk(figun17. decades. b r i t ~ W ~ m e l l b l s h b h n o l .Ma ~ p r t a f t h e h @ h l y ~ ~ k m r q u H r . r h d s l ~ w twithmrcr..4).5).6 s h m the &&ilnce an unconhd aqa& whkh has a water & h u h it in only pvrly filled % Wlh A well is a deep hole.awd well -wd Dry well I AwollmuMbe~lnanaqukto~wPtw. A conflned aquifer is separated from the surface by a conflnlng bed. Water enters aquifers in recharge areas. and flows out of aquifers in discharge areas. A ~ t h .I " W r# m d l l y hmmn waftn: &ve a high roliy of 30%. and is completely fllled wlth water under pressure. U s d y wr*ter d r ~ ff t ona inm chc I Flgum 17. Days. centuries. years.t An unconfined aquifer is exposed to the sulface and Is only partly filled with water. . Yet che emWcly srnd 8 k ofthe porn# with the -tic mnerion h y mind s haw for wrer molecule6 (see chapter 12). water In a shallow well will rise to the level of the water table. Flow jlnes show direction of ground-water flow. prrvmts ~ p t n & thqdchcflowof@~il~.Pnda ~. +y cylindrical.6 '1 .)~e&rhar~ ~fRcarndhwseua. water In wells rlros above the aqulfer.

inm s rrnm A+ bnv. .8 k p enough to inpersect the lawered mter w dry. Wctls not Flmm 17.. water is pumped from a well.-slnn .r).Inunconfinwl aquifers." .somaw a . ~. when the extensive Dakota Sandstone aquifer was first tapped (figure 17. the wa& table the well into a dcprer€one k n m @# a a n e of. d wells dry .. up.10). k a r to the saturated z&e is called redwee. .S. Nkdw6~ o ljiw . ~ ~ iha m+.. In eontinedaquifar..called an artesian well (and confined aquifers are also called arrerian aquif. I d h e l i n g aE.7 s h m . ~rimplarddwit$a. but does not reach the land surface.t 0 t h 0 ~ W b y * o l water in &welie mw a h the land surface when the mrr tapped In the 1800s.(8)Ov m : m t s r t a b l s a.ld&&erd #. m#um 17. . During dry seasons the water able fall. producing a flowing well that spouts continuously into the air unless it is capped (figure 17. Such a wen is . but continued use has lowered the water pressure surface below the ground surface in most parts of the state. 414 wvrrl v-m L. Water still rises above the aquifer. + unumum &-- 4 cat d i n d muihr bscawB l k M 1 W # d a n d ~ .. . chCuru1pt6d ~ ~ ~ ( ~ b e i i ...9).@ . In some artesian wells the water rises above the land surface. nidily. 4 ~ IIa i-8-y ~ 1 .$ on a # rilltop. Flowing wells used to occur in South Dakota. G d W .the ~ m .6). rheEndofarapki+ateicrnnottic Oudvtorignifieanrhr h c s the Waw . ha . Well (not pumped) :$bkiia"U W @ ! S & m f ill w8 h S @fld ~ W i ~ 0 t t h l ~ I O r H k A O am hiah: WIW : . . . rho under pressure and r k in wells-to a level the top of the aq&r (figure 17..r t a ~ . but ~ I ~ I -I*M table during rhc nnt rainy &n noro the drv'+ The addition of h a of e a r g .e oakta-.well d.. war risar in &dmv wells the l m l of the water table.As fihre 17.titit~gddhn . a will diipini Mnni w d v has to ' o r ~ ~ p down shorter distvlce to hit &r than . . aa water aajrs kt of the s a d urnc into rpringp and h . .

Sbinc ap&g d k h q c where thc wzru nble intemm the land s&. Canadaa( 6 )A line of oprlngs seep^ from Climate determines the relationship bnmwn s u c ~ mflow the gmund at the wn(rot k M * n lees permeae shale and ihr and the water table.10 Artesian well rpouts water abow W eurlace In South Dakota. The surface of these srrroms urincidcs with the water table.and Streams A bring is a p k a whm worn &ow#Lwadky from rock onto the land sutface (6gure 17.4-D) av to @ &d crops (figure 17.$day & water table. or rock (A) A k r ~ q 8 i n g Issuing fmm a m r n in limestons. Whw the warn table Ground water in its n a n d etatc~knbto be nla. ofdrinking wpm. .tivdy intersem the land surfaec ov+r a bmad area.Sauthern Utah. mmmj that is. &aurc it is a widely used m swamps am fbund.sgl-J<. Nimce.13). In rainy regions most streams are owlying per8aWtow. 1- . The ' &I& and hnbiri&I h c b as DDT and 2.144) can find their mi-intd water percolating into the ground b e n d a losing stream ground water when rain or irrigation rnw leaches the p o w may cause the water cable below the stream to rise. . This downward into the soil F M h art also a concern. .q.. they receive water from the saturated zone (figure 17. ponds. . Jarper contam that come to the surfice (figure 17:12). pollution of gmund watw can be a very In drier climates rivers t a d to be I+ rtnrrm. ground-water mound remains beneath the stream even wfim oneofrhcmo~wirWyUMCL~. Photo by N.. H ~ w use y of UUs aquWh6 reduced water pressure 80 much that 6 w B p o u s t 60 not occur m..U 9.F m 17. H. . National Pvk.11)... and concaminma in marcame. l a b . Water from the sotunad zone flowqinro the stream through the stream bed a d hrh rshu %. Danofl. The channels of losing streams lie above h e water table. Chapter 17 . that is. early I-. oua problck. bttt they a h ~ z uwhere r warv flows out from cpverns or along fr~cnuer.:. AUlerta. they arc loding water to the maturated mnc (figure 17-13). the h e w of these stre~maincreases domrstnam. 8 Pollution of Ground Water .fpulci. . Because of the addd gmvnri b u r . OWbglCd $ U N ~ Y Springs .ishprmzlin~cn and in a deberr rhe nnrcst source of htance under a dry stream bed.

together with household chemicals and poisons. sewage plants. A degreaser called TCE (trichloroethylene) has been increasingly found to pollute both surface and underground water in numerous regions. copper. Toxic liquid wastes are often held in surface ponds or pumped down deep disposal wells. andparasites that can contaminate ground water (figure 17.14B). (C) Water table can be close to the land surface beneath a dry stream bed. A partially empty aerosol can of ant poison? The can will rust through in the dump. Liquid and solid wastes from septic tanks. A broken thermometer? The toxic mercury may eventually find its way to the ground-water supply. lead. containing high concentrations of heavy metals and compounds such as cyanide and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). which are widely used in industry. can all be concentrated in groundwater supplies beneath dumps (figure 17.1 3 Qaining and losing streams. A half-used can of oven cleaner?The dried-out remains of a can of lead-base paint? Heavy metalr such as mercury. If the Ground Waw a . chromium. releasing the poison into the ground and into the saturated zone below. and animal feedlots and slaughterhouses may contain bacteria.15). (A) Stream gaining water from saturated zone.KWiW F4 Land stniace Lostno stream FIsum 17.140) and military bases can be highly toxic. Liquid wastes from industries (figure 17. vimes. (B) Stream losing water through stream bed to saturated zone. Consider for a moment some of the things you threw away last year. and cadmium. Rain can also leach pollutants from city dumps into ground-water supplies (figure 17.14C).

S h n p : / / w umhhe. primarily spent fuel from nuclear reactors. Deep wells may be safe for liquid waste disposal if they are deep enough. ground water can become polluted. 180 krn (1 10 miles) n Las Vegas. The permanent site will be deep undergrou must be isolated from ground-water circulation sands of years. particularly as liquid waste containers leak Chapter 17 into the saturated zone and as the seasonal rise a water table at some sites periodically covers the waste ground water. Salt B by Frank M. The shallow burial of low-level solid and liquid radioactive wastes from the nuclear power industry has caused contamination of ground Photo A by Michael Stimrnann. Nevada. It is usually caused by sulfuric acid formed by the oxidation of sulfur in pyrite and other sulfide minerals when they are exposed to air by mining activity. high-level radioactive waste (now stored tem on the surface) is a major national concern for the States. ( A ) Pesticides. Radioactive waste is both an existing and a very serious potential source of ground-water pollution. The search for a permanent disposal sit solid. (8)Household garbage.gV/pIumm~ . photos C and DfrornUSDA-Soil Conservation Service ponds leak. ( D ) Industrial toxic waste. The likely site for disposal of hi ' level waste. and rock deep beneath the surface have all been studie larly in arid regions where the water table is hundreds of below the land surface. Yucca Mountain. but contamination of drinking water supplies and even surface water has resulted in some localities from improper design of the disposal wells.D C Figure 17. The site would be deep underground in vo tuff well above the current (or predicted future) water and in a region of very low rainfall. Fish and plants are often killed by the acid waters draining from long-abandoned mines. Hanna. Acid mine dminage from coal and metal mines can contaminate both surface and ground water. shale. The U. (C) Animal waste.14 Some sources of ground-water pollution. glassy tuffs.

Even if the site is deemed safe. It could be delayed much later than this: in 1992. A plume of polluted water will spread out in the dlrectlon of ground-water flow. Not a11 sources of ground-water pollution are rnanmade. and may indicate that the region is too seismicdly active for the site to be built here at all. Energy Department office building near the sire. a 5. Garoline. but the final decision regarding the safety of Yucca Mountain will not be made until after much additional study. Naturally occurring minerah within rock and roil may Ground Warrr iBd . is less dense than water. earthquake occurred 19 kilometers (12 miles) from the proposed disposal site. Some liquids such as TCE are heavier than water and sink to the bottom of the saturated zone. The quake caused $1 million damage to a U.16).S. or even hundreds.15.S. Determining the extent and flow direction of ground-water pollution is a lengthy process requiring the drilling of tens. which leaks from gas station storage tanks at tens of thousands of U. Not all ground-water pollutants form plumes within the saturated zone as shown in figure 17. and floats upon the water table (figure 17.Dump waste piled on the land surface creates a ground-water mound beneath it because the dump forms a hill. and because the waste material is more porous and permeable than the surrounding soil and rock. of costly wells for each pollution site. California. under intense political pressure from other candidate states who did not want the site. essentially chose Nevada in late 1988 by eliminating the funding for the study of all alternarive sites.16). locations. Rain leaches pollutants into the saturated zone. it could not open before the year 2010.G-magnitude aftershock of the Landers. perhaps traveling in unpredicted directions upon the surfacc of an impermeable layer (figure 17.

some springs contain such high levels of toxic elements that the water can sicken or kill humans and animals . Like a "bad watcrhole" depicted in a Western movie. many dense chemicals move along impermeable rock surfaces below the saturated zone. Chapter 17 . selenium.Gasoline floats on water. mercury. and other toxic metals.contain elements such as arsenic. Not all spring water is safe to drink.Figurn 17. Circulating ground water can leach these elements out of the minerals and raise their concentrations to harmful levels within the water.16 Not all pollutants move within the saturated zone as shown in figure 17.15.


water. (6) If the rock has large open fractures. contamina can occur many hundreds of meters away. Chapter 17 Bdancing Withdrawal .A B Flgun 17.1 7 Rock type and distance control possible sewage contamination of neighboring wells. the clean-up process for a large region can take decades and tens o f millions o f dollars to complete. (A) As little as 30 meters (100 feet) of movement effectivelyfilter human sewage in sandstone and some other rocks and sediments.

Ireland.Signs on the pole indicate the positions of the land surface in 1925. pipelines. ment plants is commonly used for this purpose. Fresh water floats on salt water. water is actively pumped down into the ground tc replenish the ground-water supply This is more cxpensivc than filling surface ponds. Natural floodwaters or treated industrial or domestic wastewaters are stored in infiltration ponds on the surface to increase the rate of water percolation into the ground. C beains ~ u m ~ i nthinning a . but it rcduas the amount of watel lost through evaporation. and can perma. Geological Survey und-water pollutlon problems caused or aggravated by ing wells. . Reclaimed. near Mendota. California. Overpumping of ground water also causes corn. clean water from sewage tmt. ( A )Water table steepens near a dump. In some cases especially in areas where ground water is under confined con. and 1977. Photo by Richard 0. (C) Well st (beforepumping). ditions. The land sank 9 meters (30 feet) in 52 years. Ground Water . subsidence and compaction. San Joaquin Valley. l m a r i n g locity of ground-water How and drawing pollutants into a er-table slope Is reversed by pumping.I Flgum 17. changing f the ground-water flow.S. To avoid the problems of falling water tables. U. paction and porosity loss in rock and soil. nently ruin good aquifers. and polluting the well.19 Subsidence of the land surface caused by the extraction of ground water. many towns use amycial recharge to incrcasc the natural rate of recharge.the freshwaterlens and Ing salt water into the well. 1955.

20B). ( A ) Water moves along fracturesand bedding planes in limestone. 2 b Ca* calcium ion t development of caves (solution) development of flowstone and dripstone (precipitation) A In parts of some caves. below. The floors of most caves are covered ofwhich is wsidualchj the fine-grained particles left behind as insoluble residue when a limestone containing day dissolves.) from the atmosphere or from soil gases (see chapter 12). Sinkholes are closed Flgure 17. calcite in limestone t < the cave. stalagmites. may be carried into the cave by streams. dissolving the limestone to form caves below the water table. Solution of limestone undergroun tures that are visible on the surface. Calcite preclpltatlon formsstalactltes. or at the water table. As a stalactite grows downward stalagmite grows upward. 438 Chapter 17 ! hrtp://wwwmhhr. Sheetlike or ribbonlike fiwstone deposits develop from calcite that ir precipitated by flowing water on cavc walls and floors. Natural ground water is commonly slightly acidic because of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO.20). they may eventually join to column (figure 17. like pendants of dripstone hanging from 17. now greatly enlarged.) Other sediment. Ext can undermine a region so that roofs collapse and form depressions in the land surface above. loss causes amount of calcite to precipitate out of the water onto ceiling. Splashing water precipitates calci the cave floor.) ions may drip slowly from the ceiling of an air-filled can. As a water drop hangs on the ceiling of Hz0 water + CO2 carbon dioxide CaCO. Figure 17. generally rites. as shown in figure 17. Ground water with a high concentration of calcium (CaT*) and bicarbonate (HCO.20 Solution of llmestone to form caves.21 intriguing features formed in caves. Deposits of calcite (and. The CO. so stalagmites are usually t Iactites above them. (Some limestone contains only about 50% calcite. Sdogrnita are cone-shaped masses o stone formed on cave floors. which act as c ground I . When the water drop falls to the cave floor. the i may cause more C O loss. including most of the coarse-grained material found on cave floors. Read the equation below from left to tight for calcite solution.1). the cave may begin to fill in again by calcite precipitation. other minerals) built caves by dripping water are d c d dr)stone. to fill with air. Geologists disagree whether limestone caves form above.Effects of Ground-Water Action Sinkholes% and Karst Topography Cam (or CIVUIU) are naturally formed underground chambers. water flows in a thin film over the cave surfaces rather than dripping from the ceiling. and columns above the water table. opening up cavern Wtems as calcite is carried away in solution (figure 17. If the water table drops or the land is elevated abwe the water table. some of the dissolved carbon dioxide ( ~ 2 0 ~ ) lost into the cave's atmosphere. A falling water fore. Most caves develop when slightly acidic ground water dissolves limestone along joints and bedding planes. Most caves roba ably are formed by p u n d water circulating below the water table. ( 6 )Falling water table allows cave system. can precipitate small amounts of calcite on both ceiling and the cave floor and each subsequent drop ad calcite to the first deposits. particularly when surface water drains into a cave system from openings on the land surface. and from right to left for the calcite precipitation reaction (see also table 12. rarely. They are generally slender aligned along cracks in the ceiling.208). and another small amount of may precipitate on t i e cave floor.

If a well did tap a true underground river in a karst region. Limestone regions in Florida. In this specialized instance.22). and flowstone in Great Onyx Cave. the water would probably be too polluted to drink. Such streams arc quite rare. stalagmites. Photo courtesy Stanley Fagerlin . An area with many sinkholes and with cave systems beneath the land surface is said to have karat topography (figure 17. which are also soluble in water.21 Stalactites. although one major river may flow at a level lower than the karst area. a true undrrground rtrcum exists. not underground streams. Karst areas are characterized by a lack of surface streams. [ Figure 17.depressions found on land surfaces underlain by limestone (figure 17. howeve6 as most ground water flows very slowly through pores and cracks in sediment or rodt. but this is almost never the w e . Kentucky. Missouri. Sinkholes can also form in regions underlain by gypsum or rock salt. Wells tap ground water in the rock pores and crevices.23). ( 8 )A collapse sinkhole that formed suddenly in Winter Gmund Water . and Kentucky are heavily dotted with sinkholes. especially if it hiid washed down from the surface into a cavern without being filtered through soil and rock. You may hear people with wells describe the "underground stream" that their well penetrates.They form either by the collup~rof a cave roof or by solution as descending water enlarges a crack in limestone. Indiana. Kentucky. Streams sometimes disappear down sinkholes to flow through caves beneath the surface.

alkali soil may develop because of the precipitation of great quantities of sodium salts by evaporating . (See chapter 12. Alkal'i soil generally forms at the ground surface in low-lying areas. Smaii amounts of iron and other elements color the silica in the log. globe-shaped bodies found some limcstoncs and locally in other rodts. Geodu are partly hollow. The result is a hard. dcite.Petrified log in the Painted Desert. mas called a concretion develops. The outer shell L. usually silica or calcite. Arizona. or other fossil (figure 17. When a considerable amount of cementing material precipitates locally in a r o d . Calcite or silica carried by ground water can dso replace the original material in marine shells and animal bones. permanent rock. The origin of geodes is complex but clearly related m )ground water. a hard rounded Concretlon8 that have weathered out of shale.24). ot other m i n e d project in& coward a central cavity (figurr 17.Rgum 17. Photo @ Eric & David HoskinglCorb~sMedia Other ERects Ground water is important in the preservation offisih such a9 p d e d woad. commonly preserving thc growth rings and other details of the wood. typically around an or+ nucleus such as a leaf. Concretions contain more cement than the surrounding rock and thereforeare very resistant to weathering. and well-formed ctystals of quartz. Sedimentary mdc ccmmt. Crystals in geodes may have filled original caviria or have replaced fossils or other crystals.ground water. is carried into place by pound water.) 4 .26). amorphous silica. tooth.25). In arid and semiarid climates. Such soil is unfit for plant growth. that develops when porous buried wood is either filled in or replaced by inotganic silica carried in by ground water (figure 17.

In the United States most hot springs are found in the western states when they are associated with relatively recent volcanism. Wyoming.27. Georgia.27 -Eruptive history of a typical geyser In A through D. j~hotoQHal BeralNieual8 Unllmlted Hot aphga are springs in which the water is warmer drM human body temperature. See text for explanatlon. regardless of its origin. Concemrlc layers of amorphous slllca are ~ ~ n witn e d wellformed quartz crystals growlng inward toward a central oavily. As discussed in chapter 11. have been warmed by deep circulation. (Scale Is In oentimeters. The water is generally near boiling (100°C). perhaps along joints or fiults. Water gradually Water Water and ble layers Water condu~t I Ver. The hot springs and pools of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming arc of this type. The famous springs at Warm Springs. First. which prevencs the water from rising and cooling. Water can gain heat in two ways while it is underground. is lighter than cold water and readily rises to the surface. Eruptions may be caused by a constriction in the underground "plumbing" of a geyser. hot water . Warm water.Hot Water Underground - Geodes. Photo shows the eruption of Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone Natlonal Park. A geyaw is a type of hot spring that periodically erupts hot water and steam. Clgum 17. The events thought to lead to a geyser eruption are illustrated in figure 17.) . Water circulating to a depth of 2 or 3 kilometers is warmed substantially above normal surface water temperature. the normal geothermal gradient (the increase in temperature with depth) is 25"Clkilometer (about 75"Flmile). Ground water can also gain heat if it circulates unusually deeply in the earth. ground water may circulate near a magma chamber or a body of cooling igneous rock. and more commonly.

Photo by Dlane Carlson seeps into a panidly emptied geyser chamber and heat supplied from below slowly warms the water. driving hot water with it and condensing into visible steam. In such a g c o t h ~ ana. however. which averages about 65 minutes between eruptions (though it varies from about 30 to 95 minutes). The mud probably ftom intense chemical weathering of the surrounding ro these strong acids (see figure 12. while dissolved ~ilicaprecipitates as sinter (called geys&tc when deposited by a geyser. oil. Both deposits can be stained by the pigments of algae living in the hot water. as shown in figure 17.PO Qeyserlte dbpoalts amund the vent of Castle Qeyser. Many geysers. it may precipitate some of its dissolved ions as minerals. now nearly empty. some with weeks or months between eruptions. The bubbles may clog the constricted part of the chamber until the upward pressure of rhe bubbles pushes out some of the water above in a gentle surge. to form strongly acidic solutions. creating electricity Geothermal energy production requires no burnin fuel. Algae llvlng In the hot water provide the color. The entire cycle may be quite regular.28). so the carbon dioxide emissions of power plants burn coal. Bubbles of water vapor and other gases then begin to form as the temperature of the water rises. This drop in pressure causes the chamber water. it has s o d .29). or natural gas are eliminated (as are nuclear waste and dangers of nuclear power p Although geothermal energy is relatively dean. l wells can cap stea superheated water that can be turned into steam) that is piped to a powerhouse where it turns a turbine that sp generator. The composition of the subsurfice rocks generally determines which type of deposit forms. although sinter can indicate higher subsurface temperatures than travertine because silica is harder to dissolve than calcite. which combine Chapter 17 Clgum 17. erupt irregularly. boiling mud. Yellowstone National Park).PB Precipitation of calclte In the form of travertine terraces around a hot sprlng (Mammoth Hot Sprlngs. The chamber. to flash into vapor. as it is in Yellowstone's Old Faithful geyser. The expanding vapor blasts upward out of the chamber. As hot ground water comes to the surface and cools.Figun 17. Mudpots are usually marked by a small amount of water and strongly sulfurous gases. The algae can be used to estimate water temperature because their color changes from green to brown to orange to yellow as the temperature rises. begins to fill again and the cyde is repeated. A mudpoc is a special type of hot spring that contains thick. thus lowering the pressure on the water in the lower part of the chamber. now very hot. Geothermal Energy ' Electriciry can be generated by harnessing naturally occur steam and hot water in areas that are exceptionally hot un ground.16). Yellow National Park. Travrrtine is a deposit of calcirr that often forms around hot springs (figure 17.

A confined aquifrr holds water under pressure. Artificial recharge can help create a balance between withdrawal and recharge of ground-water supplies. and their extraction can cause land subsidence. sinkholes. Klamath Falls. The water table is the top surface of the saturated zone and is overlain by the uadw zone. industry. hsingsmamr contribute to the ground water in dry regions. Geothermal fluids are often highly corrosive to equipment. Geothermal energy can be tapped ro gencrate electricity. and the field may soon run out of steam.000 megawatts of electricity (enough for 2 million people). 120 kilometers (80 miles) north of San Francisco. concretions. as well as paper manufacturing. A pumped well causes a cone of drprrrsion that in turn can cause or aggravate ground-water pollution. Idaho. Geothermal fields can be depleted. Smith. Pumping wastewater underground can help reduce subsidence problems. such as lead and mercury. and alkali soils. Precipitation of material out of solution by ground water helps form petrified wood. and Reykjavik. Photo by M.i I i Figure 17. other fossils. Geological Survey : About 15 percent of the water that falls on land percolates underground to become %roundwater. US. agriculture. Grysm and hor springs occur in regions of hot ground water.30). California. and help prevent subsidence. Near a coast. :nvironmentd problems. Local variations in rock permeability may develop apmhed watcr tab& above the main water table. which can create artesian wellr. Penneablr rocks permit water to movc through them. The Geysers field increased its capacity in recent years to 2. Ground water can be polluted by city dumps. and kant rep& Calcite precipitating out of ground water forms stahctitcs and stahgmitcs in caves. creating a large reservoir of usable watcr in most regions. but production has declined. piped from wells to the power plant. and lakes form where the water table intersects the land surface. ground water 424 hot spring 44 1 karst topography 439 losing stream 430 perched water table 425 permeability 424 petrified wood 440 porosity 424 recharge 429 saturated zone 425 sinkhole 438 spring 430 stalactite 438 stalagmite 438 unconfined aquifer 428 vadosc zone 425 water table 425 well 428 Ground Water . Ground water fills pores and joints in rock. springs.30 Geothermal power plant at The Geysers. and food preparation. The largest field in the world is at The Geysers in California (figure 17. Nonelectric uses of geothermal energy include space heating (in Boise. An aquz* is porous and permeable and k aquifer 427 nrtesian well 429 uvc (cavern) 438 pncmion 440 mne of depression 429 confined (artesian) aquifer 428 kawdown 429 can supply water to wells. is being discharged from the cooling towers in the background. or sewage diiposal. Underground steam. it can cause saltwater inmion. geodes. Gainingstreams. Workets nee toxic hydrogen sulfide gas in the steam. Ground-water velocity depends on rock permeability and the slope of the water table. a commonly contains dissolved ions and metals. Some pollutants can be filtered out by passage of the water through moderately permeable geologic materials. sedimentary rock cement. ore processing. that can kill fish and plants if discharged on the surface. the capital of Iceland). Solution of limestone by ground water forms caws. Pomw rocks can hold watcr. Oregon.

ability of a sediment to retard warn (d) none of the a k : g ~ 4. Groundwater hydmlogy New York: McGraw-Hill. and R J. Washington. Describe several ways in which ground water can become polluted. H. McGumness. Baldwin.I Testing Your Kno . What is karst topography?How does it form? abiq 21. The subsurface wne in which 111 rockopenings arc fdledd 4 limestone? For stalactites to develop in a cave? 5. 12. 1978.$ An aquifer is (a) a body of sammed rock or sedimen which water can move easily (b) a body of rock that flow of ground water (c) a body of rock that is impe Which rock type would m& the best aquifer? (a) sh (b) mudstone (c) sandstone (d) d of the above Which of the following determines how quickly gro flows? (a) elevation (b) water pressure (c) permeabil the above Ground water flows (a) always downhill (b) from areas of high hydraulic head to low hydraulic head (c) from high elm% to low elmxion (d) from high permeability to low petmeab'ili~ The drop in the water table around a pumped well is the (a) drawdown (b) hydraulic head (c) porosity (d) fluid potentid 15. Describe any difference between the amounts of water that would percolate downward to the saturated zone beneath a flat meadow in northern New York and beneath a rocky hillside in southern Nwada. 1986. 2. Gmundwatrrand wells. 10. where is your local waste stored? 3. Where should high-level nuclear waste from power plants be stored? If your m . or if future be banned? 4.: U. What controls the velocity of ground-water flow? 11. Name several geologic materials that make good aquifers. S. C. N. G. 444 Chapter 17 state or community uses nuclear power. F. D e h e aqw$?r. Paul. How does a confined aquifer differfrom an unconfined aquifer? 4 openings (b) the capacity of a rock to transmit a fluid (c) . Aprimcron ground water. 1993. What conditions are necessary for an artesian well? 2. Pomsity is (a) the percentage of a rock's volume that is openings 1. L. Discuss the factors that control the amount of percolation in each case. 6. Petmeability is (a) the pcrccntagc of a rodis volume that kkk gcy. s.uyr. Driscoll. 22. What causes a perched water table? 18. 20. What happens to the water table near a pumped well? 14. I1 . Bouwer. 1963.syos.- Use the questions below to prepare for exams based on this chapter. De Wiest. St. Inc. 1.> 3. New York: Maunillan Publishing Company. M. Discuss the difirence between porosity and permeability 8. and C. -. 2d cd. H. Should all polluted ground water be cleaned up? How much money has been set aside by the federal government for cleaning polluted ground water?Who should pay for ground-water cleanup if the company that polluted the water no longer exists? Davis. How does petrified wood form? 13. 1993. Hydmgcology New York: John Wiley & Sons..C.. What chemical conditions arc necessary for caves to develop in 4 16. New York: Maunillan Publishing Company. Geological Survey. Minnesotl: Johnson Division. 1966. I. Inc. What is the water table? Is it h e d in position? 9. water is called the (a) saturated wne (b) water table (c) wne -3 . Should some aquifers be let? conruninated if t h m is use of the water. Contaminanthydrgcology.S. Sketch four different origins for springs. 7. AppliedLydmgcolog)r 3d ed. D. What distinguishes a geyser from a hot spring?Why does a -_-__ (b) the capacity of a rock to transmit a fluid (4 the sediment to rnvd weer (d) none of the above 17. W. Why arc most of North America's springs and gepcn in the western and provinces? Fetter. 19.

Rimer. of Pennsylvania.Washington. 1974. 1992. Ground Water . Iowa: Wm.. Wallcr. B. Swenson. A. Aprimer on water q1*11i@Washington. D. Geological Society of America Bulletin. 103. e . 1995. &und water web site that has a lot of links Good to water topics in the United States from the USGS. Baldwin.Patrick. rc. logy: Thc I+ ofcavn. &undwamand rhc r u d homeowner. and J.S. R M. . 1983. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Brown Publishers. v. F. 1988. Pn'nciphof eonminant hydrogeology Chelsea. L. Nicholas. Frceman & Co. http:llwater. C. 1975.usgs.caves.wr.usgs. Kochel. M. H.: U.html Information about using biorcmediation clean up toxiu in the soil.. H. A. V. and U. and J. and G. Watm:Aprimn: San uaw: W.govI~ 'widlh bioremed. 2d cd. Groundwatercontamination in the United States Philadelphia: Univ. Roce~~geomorphology. 3d cd. D. http:lltoxics. Caves. I. 1964.C. Washington.S. D.! Home pagc of the National Speieo&cal Sociery wntains links to web pages of local interest and acwa to the NSS boobtore. K.gwItoxicsl Various sites and informatio dean up of toxics in surface and gro hnp:llwater. D. and ground water.: U.C. Boston: D. R. New York: Cmwn Publishers. C.T. Palmer. surfice.html Ground Water Adas for the United Snrcs. Good general information about aquifers. W..usgs. C. 1915. Geological Survey. G. 1991.C. Pyc. L. D. http:llwater. Origin and morphology of limcrtonc cavcr. 1-21. 1980. N. Geological Survey Genera Interat Publication. Michigan: Lewis Publishers. Todd. Walthun. . http:llwww. pp. Quarlcs.. R C. Palmer. R Miller. Dubuque. logical Survey Water-Supply Paper Id.