What is groundwater? unsaturated zone. saturated zone. water table

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2 Objectives What are aquifers and aquitards? What is head, and how does it relate to pressure? How is water stored in rock? What is hydraulic conductivity? 2

3 What is groundwater? unsaturated zone water table saturated zone 3

4 What is groundwater? Groundwater is water stored below the land surface in pores within sediments in fractures and micropores within rock The water table is the surface that separates the unsaturated zone (above) from the saturated zone (below) 4

5 Aquifers and aquitards Water table Alluvium Shale (aquitard) This is not a lake 5

6 Aquifers and aquitards (cont.) An aquifer is a layer capable of transmitting a significant quantity of water An aquitard is a layer that impedes the flow of groundwater An unconfined aquifer is open to the atmosphere and has a water table (see unconsolidated in the Water Act 2000) A confined aquifer is bounded above and below (see consolidated in the Water Act 2000) 6

7 Pressure and head Top of casing Water level inside casing pressure head (elevation above datum) Slotted casing Monitoring bores measure pressure and head 7

8 Pressure and head water table elevation piezometric head Alluvium Shale (aquitard) Groundwater flows due to differences in head 8

9 Consider a header tank piezometric surface head h 1 head h 2 With valve closed, there is no flow 9

10 Consider a header tank piezometric surface head h 1 head h 2 With valve open, there is flow Note that flow in a pipe can be upwards! 10

11 Pressure and head observation or monitoring bores subartesian bores Piezometric surface artesian head bores difference Alluvium Shale (aquitard) horizontal flow in aquifers with vertical leakage 11

12 Pressure, head flow directions Horizontal flow within aquifers Vertical flow across aquitards Piezometric surface Alluvium Shale (aquitard) A confined aquifer acts like a pipe 12

13 Porosity porosity = n = volume of voids total volume Typical values: 25-50% in sand 40-70% in clay 0-10% in fractured granite/shale 5-30% in sandstone 13

14 The nature of porosity 14

15 Storage in an unconfined aquifer When the water table falls under gravity, most of the water in the pore space drains downwards The water that is released is called specific yield If specific yield = 10%: a 1 m fall in the water table will release 0.1 m of water a 1 m rise in the water table requires 0.1 m of recharge 15

16 Storage in a confined aquifer When water is stored at depth, in a confined aquifer, it is under pressure, so the water is squeezed A drop in head (pressure) causes expansion and a small amount of water is released Specific storativity allows us to explain this compression and expansion 16

17 Relative magnitudes of storage Consider the impact of a 1 m change in head over an area of 100 ha In an unconfined aquifer, with Sy = kl In a confined aquifer, 100 m thick, with S 0 = m -1 5 kl 17

18 Hydraulic conductivity head h 1 head h2 length L area A column of saturated material 18

19 Hydraulic conductivity head h 1 head h2 length L area A flow = Q = K. A. hydraulic conductivity h1 h2 L Darcy s Law 19

20 Hydraulic conductivity (cont.) Hydraulic conductivity K describes how easily rock transmits water It varies depending on the porosity and structure of rock As K increases, the flow Q increases 20

21 Hydraulic conductivity (cont.) Hydraulic conductivity is different in different directions Horizontal K h is nearly always larger than vertical K v assuming that bedding planes are roughly horizontal low K high K 21

22 Water cycle evapotranspiration Net flux is recharge to the water table rainfall or irrigation infiltration percolation groundwater flow recharge surface runoff 22

23 Numerical model Three-dimensional region is divided into many small cells, so that calculations can be done 23

24 Summary Groundwater flow is driven by differences in head, which is a measure of potential energy The rate of flow of groundwater is controlled by hydraulic conductivity, which can be different in different directions. Aquifers are layers that transmit groundwater, mainly horizontally. Aquitards impede the movement of groundwater. They can support large head differences across them, so flow through aquitards is mainly vertical. 24

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