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USGS Groundwater Information > April 2, 2018 Highlights

USGS Monthly Groundwater News and Highlights: April 2, 2018

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Featured Product: Understanding Contamination in Fractured-Rock Aquifers

 [ Screenshot of  model simulation ]

Figure: Bromide tracer concentration in a transport model simulation with no matrix diffusion, for time 1000 hours after the start of tracer injection. Source: Figure 8, Tiedeman and others, 2018.

Improper disposal methods, leaking tanks and pipes, and chemical spills have contaminated fractured-rock aquifers in and around many industrial area across the Nation. In areas underlain by fractured rock, the management of the groundwater resource is complicated by the complex geometry of bedrock fractures, which may act as conduits and barriers to flow. USGS research in these complex environments provides the science and tools to understand the actual versus perceived health risks due to anthropogenic chemical contaminants that have persisted for decades in fractured-rock aquifers, and to provide the science needed to economically and effectively minimize exposure and actual health risks.

Two recently-released USGS journal articles illustrate the critical importance of using modeling to inform design, monitoring, and expectations of bioremediation in fractured-rock aquifers in order to evaluate mobilization of chloroethene compounds from the rock matrix. Together, these articles illustrate that one cannot solely collect groundwater quality samples from permeable fractures to accurately measure the mass of the contaminant mobilized by bioremediation. One must conduct detailed site characterization in fractured aquifers, in particular, synthesizing geologic, geophysical, hydraulic, and geochemical information through groundwater flow modeling in order to accurately design remediation strategies that target specific volumes of the aquifer, and accurately forecast the success of remedial actions.

USGS Groundwater-Related Press Releases

Animation of Groundwater Watch Active Water Level Network, 30 days

The USGS Active Groundwater Level Network includes about 20,000 wells that have been measured by the USGS or USGS cooperators at least once within the past 13 months. The animation shows a daily snapshot of water-level statistics in the network for March 2018. Credit: USGS. The image is in the public domain.

Media Advisory: Water Levels to be Measured in 1,300 Southern Idaho Wells (3/12/2018)

Media Advisory: Low-flying Helicopter to Survey Groundwater near Grand Canyon West and Peach Springs, Arizona (3/6/2018)

USGS Groundwater-Related Publications

The Ozark Plateaus Regional Aquifer Study -- Documentation of a groundwater-flow model constructed to assess water availability in the Ozark Plateaus (03/30/18)

Groundwater-level data from an earthen dam site in southern Westchester County, New York (03/26/18)

The role of frozen soil in groundwater discharge predictions for warming alpine watersheds (03/23/18)

Groundwater quality in the Mokelumne, Cosumnes, and American River Watersheds, Sierra Nevada, California (03/26/18)

Natural and man-made hexavalent chromium, Cr(VI), in groundwater near a mapped plume, Hinkley, California -- study progress as of May 2017, and a summative-scale approach to estimate background Cr(VI) concentrations (03/23/18)

Delineation of the hydrogeologic framework of the Big Sioux aquifer near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, using airborne electromagnetic data (03/22/18)

Hydrologic assessment of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (03/19/18)

Hydrogeology of, simulation of groundwater flow in, and potential effects of sea-level rise on the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system in the vicinity of Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey (03/20/18)

Bioremediation in fractured rock: 1. Modeling to inform design, monitoring, and expectations (03/17/18)

Assessment of geochemical and hydrologic conditions near Old Yuma Mine in Saguaro National Park, Arizona, 2014-17 (03/14/18)

Bioremediation in fractured rock: 2. Mobilization of chloroethene compounds from the rock matrix (03/08/18)

Estimates of nitrate loads and yields from groundwater to streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed based on land use and geology (03/07/18)

Metamodeling and mapping of nitrate flux in the unsaturated zone and groundwater, Wisconsin, USA (03/06/18)

Groundwater-level analysis of selected wells in the Hoosic River Valley near Hoosick Falls, New York, for aquifer framework and properties (03/05/18)

ModelArchiver -- A program for facilitating the creation of groundwater model archives (03/02/18)

Ground ruptures attributed to groundwater overexploitation damaging Jocotepec city in Jalisco, Mexico: 2016 field excursion of IGCP-641 (03/27/18)

Volcanic aquifers of Hawai'i -- Hydrogeology, water budgets, and conceptual models (03/02/18)

Spatially distributed groundwater recharge estimated using a water-budget model for the Island of Maui, Hawai'i, 1978-2007 (03/02/18)

Hydrogeologic characteristics and geospatial analysis of water-table changes in the alluvium of the lower Arkansas River Valley, southeastern Colorado, 2002, 2008, and 2015 (03/08/18)


USGS Groundwater-Related Software Updates and New Releases

  • ModelMuse v3.1: A Graphical User Interface for MODFLOW-2005 and related programs
  • ModelArchiver v1.0: Software to aid in the creation of model archives and FGDC metadata.


Field Photo

USGS research helps us understand how contamination moves through fractured-rock aquifers in order to inform environmental managers' decisions about how to characterize, monitor, and treat contaminated groundwater. As part of this science, USGS conducts long-term field experiments at a former aircraft engine test facility, the USGS Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) Research Site in West Trenton, New Jersey. High concentrations of trichloroethene persist in sedimentary rocks despite two decades of groundwater pumping and treatment at the site. In this photo, a USGS scientist prepares equipment used for a bioaugmentation experiment at the NAWC Research Site. The bladders contain solutions that were injected into the subsurface. The injection well is in front of the blue barrel.

 [ Photo of scientists preparing equipment next to a well ]

Credit: USGS/Daniel J. Goode. Photo is in the public domain. Click on photo for larger version.

Archive of Past Highlights:

Past monthly summaries are available online.

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