The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Method to characterize aquitards above leaky aquifers with water supply wells

TitleMethod to characterize aquitards above leaky aquifers with water supply wells
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsOstendorf DW, Degroot DJ, Judge AI, LaMesa DF
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Start Page595
Date Published05/2010
KeywordsAnalytical solutions Confining units Groundwater protection Hydraulic properties Hydraulic testing

Leaky aquifers provide protected drinking water since the aquifer is overlain by an aquitard, and this study develops a method to estimate hydraulic properties of the latter deposit. Steady pumping, supply well shutdowns, and slug tests generate data in adjacent monitoring well clusters that characterize the aquitard. An existing steady model estimates a site-averaged value of the aquitard permeability k if its thickness is known, and this site-averaged estimate may be compared with local k estimates from conventional and extended slug tests. A shutdown attenuation model estimates a local value of the consolidation coefficient CV, which combines with the local k value to specify the compressibility α of the aquitard. The method is illustrated for the Fowl Meadow Aquifer, a stratified drift deposit used as a drinking water supply in eastern Massachusetts (USA), with an overlying silt aquitard of 10 m thickness. Steady data and theory suggest a site-averaged k of 2.3 × 10–17 m2 for the aquitard, while the shutdown attenuation model generates local CV values that vary from 10–5 to 10–3 m2/s. The slug tests yield a local k variation (10–17–10–13 m2) that brackets the site-averaged value, and an α range of 10–9–10–7 Pa–1.