Evaluation of Spring Discharge for Characterization of Groundwater Flow in Fractured Rock Aquifers: A Case Study from the Blue Ridge Province, VA
Gentry, William Miles
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Recent models of groundwater flow in the Blue Ridge Province suggest multiple aquifers and flow paths may be responsible for springs and seeps appearing throughout the region. Deep confined aquifers and shallow variably confined aquifers may contribute water to spring outlets, resulting in vastly different water quality and suitability for potable water supplies and stock watering. A new Low Flow Recording System (LoFRS) was developed to measure the discharge of these springs that are so ubiquitous throughout the Blue Ridge Province. Analysis of spring discharge, combined with electrical resistivity surveying, aquifer tests, and water chemistry data reveal mixed shallow and deep aquifer sources for some springs, while other springs and artesian wells are sourced only in the deep aquifer. The technique is suitable for rapid characterization of flow paths leading to spring outlets. Rapid characterization is important for evaluation of potential water quality problems arising from contamination of shallow and deep aquifers, and for evaluation of water resource susceptibility to drought. The spring discharge technique is also suitable for use in other locations where fractured rock and crystalline rock aquifers are common.
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