Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011AK97B

UAA Wellfield: Research and Teaching Applications, Phase II

Institute: Alaska
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2012-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $16,100 Total Non-Federal Funds: $32,224

Principal Investigators: Bryce Willems, LeeAnn Munk

Abstract: Groundwater resources within Alaska have not been well-studied, yet a comprehensive understanding of groundwater quantity and quality must be reached if groundwater is to be used in a sustainable way in light of projected population growth and continued land development. To meet this challenge, the Department of Geological Sciences at UAA continues to strengthen its educational and research capacity in Hydrogeology and Geochemistry so that graduates have field experience and the necessary knowledge to examine groundwater geologic problems. Anchorage derives its groundwater from course-grained glacifluvial sediments that are part of the Cook Inlet Aquifer System (CIAS) (Miller and Whitehead, 1999). The CIAS in the Anchorage area represents one of the better-studied systems in Alaska, yet it remains poorly constrained. The objective of this project is to expand the educational and research opportunities at the UAA Wellfield through the installation of a 200 ft monitoring well. The wellfield provides a natural laboratory from which UAA students, faculty, and the community can learn about groundwater flow, aquifer characteristics, and groundwater quality. The wellfield consists of three wells (one pumping and two monitoring) that penetrate ~70 ft into a shallow unconfined aquifer. It is located near the Conoco Phillips Integrated Science building where it can easily be accessed by UAA students during a regular class period. Students measure static water level, collect time-drawdown data from pumping and slug tests, and collect water samples for geochemical analysis. The installation of a deeper (200 ft) well will provide insight regarding the potential occurrence of a confining layer and deeper confined aquifer below 70 ft depth as well as potential insight regarding vertical groundwater flow. Groundwater sampling will be conducted in order to understand changes in basic water quality parameters including pH, T, conductivity, alkalinity and major cation and anion composition. Additionally, trace element concentrations as well as δ18O and δD will be determined to aid in geochemical modeling of the groundwater and the overall seasonal variations in composition and source. Collectively, this project will provide additional infrastructure for both teaching and research in the field of Environmental Geology at UAA.