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Groundwater and Aquifers. Groundwater Hydraulics Daene C. McKinney. Some Terminology. Hydrology (  )  - “water”;  - “study of” Study of Water : properties, distribution, and effects on the Earth’s surface, soil, and atmosphere Water Management

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groundwater and aquifers

Groundwater and Aquifers

Groundwater Hydraulics

Daene C. McKinney

some terminology
Some Terminology
  • Hydrology ()
    •  - “water”;  - “study of”
    • Study of Water: properties, distribution, and effects on the Earth’s surface, soil, and atmosphere
  • Water Management
    • Sustainable use of water resources
    • Manipulating the hydrologic cycle
      • Hydraulic structures, water supply, water treatment, wastewater treatment & disposal, irrigation, hydropower generation, flood control, etc.
some history
Some History
  • Qanats
    • Subterranean tunnels used to tap and transport groundwater
    • Originally in Persia
    • Kilometers in length
    • Up to 3000 years old
    • Many still operating
  • Chinese Salt Wells
    • 1000 years ago: Drilled wells
    • Over 300 meters deep
    • Bamboo to retrieve cuttings
    • By year 1858: 1000 meters deep
    • Called “cable tool” drilling today

Ancient Persian Qanat

Ancient Chinese Salt Well

old theories
Old Theories
  • Homer (~1000 BC)
    • “from whom all rivers are and the entire sea and all springs and all deep wells have their waters”
  • Seneca (3 BC -65 AD)
    • “You may be quite sure that it not mere rainwater that is carried down into our greatest rivers.”
  • DaVinci (1452-1519)
    • accurate representation of the hydrologic cycle
  • Descartes (1596-1650)
    • Vapors are drawn up from the earth and condensed…
  • Kircher(1615-1680)
    • Water from the ocean is vaporized by the hot earth, rises, and condenses inside mountains.
old theories cont
Old Theories (Cont.)
  • Vitruvius (~80-20 BC)
    • 8th Book on Water and Aqueducts. Rain and snow on land reappears as springs and rivers
  • Palissy(1509-1590).
    • French scientist and potter - accurate representation of the hydrologic cycle
  • Perrault (1670):
    • Water balance on the Seine. River flow explained by rainfall.
  • Mariotte(1620-1684).
    • French physicist. First recharge estimates. Leaky roof analogy.
  • Vallisnieri(1723)
    • At lower altitudes in the Alps, artesian wells are common. Higher altitudes in Alps, streams are losing water Groundwater originates from rain.
modern theories
Modern Theories
  • Henri Darcy (1856)
    • Relationship for the flow through sand filters. Resistance of flow through aquifers. Solution for unsteady flow.
  • King (1899)
    • Water table maps, groundwater flow, cross-section
  • Hazen, Slichter, O. E. Meinzer(1900s)
    • Practical applications, basing on theoretical principles of French hydrogeology
  • C.V. Theis(1930s)
    • Well Hydraulics

Henri Darcy

C.V. Theis

global water resources

2.5% OF TOTAL GLOBAL (Freshwater)

68.9% Glaciers & Permanent

Snow Cover


29.9% Fresh

Ground water




0.3% Freshwater Lakes &

River Storage. Only this portion is renewable

0.9% Other including

soil moisture, swamp

water and permafrost

Global Water Resources

Groundwater Management in IWRM: Training Manual, GW-MATE, 2010

global water cycle

Principal sources of fresh water for human activities

(44,800 km3/yr)

Global Water Cycle

Residence time:

Average travel time for water through a subsystem of the hydrologic cycle

Tr = S/Q



Hydrologic Cycle (Local view)

Atmospheric Moisture






Throughfall and

Stem Flow









Our focus


Soil Moisture





Groundwater Flow


Streams and Lakes

Channel Flow


edwards aquifer
Edwards Aquifer
  • Primary geologic unit is Edwards Limestone
  • One of the most permeable and productive aquifers in the U.S.
  • The aquifer occurs in 3 distinct segments:
    • Contributing zone
    • Recharge zone
    • Artesianzone
contributing zone of edwards aquifer
Contributing Zone of Edwards Aquifer
  • Located north and west of the aquifer in the region referred to as the Edwards Plateau or Texas Hill Country
  • Largest part of the aquifer spanning 4400 sq. miles
  • Water in this region travels to recharge zone
recharge zone of edwards aquifer
Recharge Zone of Edwards Aquifer
  • Geologically known as the Balcones fault zone
  • It consists of an abundance of Edwards Limestone that is exposed at the surface
    • -provides path for water to reach the artesian zone
artesian zone of edwards aquifer
Artesian Zone of Edwards Aquifer
  • The artesian zone is a complex system of interconnected voids varying from microscopic pores to open caverns
  • Located between two relatively less permeable layers that confine and pressurize the system
  • Underlies 2100 square miles of land

The Ogallala Aquifer

  • Approximately 170,000 wells draw water from the aquifer.
  • Water level declines of 2-3 feet per year in some regions .
  • Only 10% is restored by rainfall.
the ogallala aquifer
The Ogallala Aquifer

Water Level Change up to 1980

Water Level Change 1980 - 1994

  • Course Introduction and Housekeeping
  • Groundwater and Aqufiers
    • Terminology
    • History
  • Global Water Resources
    • Global Water Cycle
  • Texas Aquifers
    • Edwards
    • Ogallala