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USGS Groundwater Information

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USGS Groundwater Watch

USGS maintains a network of active wells to provide basic statistics about groundwater levels.

 [Image: USGS active water level wells location map.]

USGS in Your State

USGS Water Science Centers are located in each state.

 [Map: There is a USGS Water Science Center office in each State.] Washington Oregon California Idaho Nevada Montana Wyoming Utah Colorado Arizona New Mexico North Dakota South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Texas Minnesota Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Wisconsin Illinois Mississippi Michigan Indiana Ohio Kentucky Tennessee Alabama Pennsylvania West Virginia Georgia Florida Caribbean Alaska Hawaii and Pacific Islands New York Vermont New Hampshire Maine Massachusetts South Carolina North Carolina Rhode Island Virginia Connecticut New Jersey Maryland-Delaware-D.C.

Unsaturated Zone

The unsaturated zone is the portion of the subsurface above the groundwater table. The soil and rock in this zone contains air as well as water in its pores. In some places the unsaturated zone is absent, as is common where there are lakes and marshes, and in some places it is hundreds of meters thick, as is common in arid regions.

Unlike the aquifers of the saturated zone below, the unsaturated zone is not a source of readily available water for human consumption. But it is of great importance in providing water and nutrients that are vital to the biosphere, and is intensively used for the cultivation of plants, construction of buildings, and disposal of waste.

Hydrologically, the unsaturated zone is often the main factor controlling water movement from the land surface to the aquifer. Thus it strongly affects the rate of aquifer recharge, critical for the use and management of groundwater. It is often regarded as a filter that removes undesirable substances. To some extent this is true, but a more general fact is that flow rates and chemical reactions in the unsaturated zone control whether, where, and how fast contaminants enter groundwater supplies. Understanding of unsaturated-zone processes is therefore crucial in determining the amount and quality of groundwater that is available for human use.

Unsaturated Zone Resources & Information

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URL: http://water.usgs.gov/ogw/unsaturated.html
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Page Last Modified: Monday, 16-Sep-2013 20:51:54 EDT