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Piezometer nests were installed at study sites in each of five north-south-trending end moraines of the late Pleistocene Oak Creek Formation in southeastern Wisconsin. The formation is composed primarily of a fine-grained glacial diamicton (till) and laterally continuous and discontinuous, coarse-grained lake and meltwater stream sediment. It overlies the Silurian dolomite aquifer, which is a source of drinking water to rural areas. The average vertical linear velocity and age of ground water in the Oak Creek Formation were estimated by three methods: Darcy's Law, environmental isotopes including 3H, ??2H, ??18O, and 14C (dissolved inorganic carbon), and solute transport modeling of 18O. The F-1 and Metro sites in the Tinley moraine showed excellent agreement among the three estimates of vertical velocity and showed the lowest velocity values (0.3-0.5 cm year-1 downward), which suggests that diffusion controls vertical mass transport at these sites. Although the extrapolated maximum age of ground water is 35 000 years, ground water below 75 m at these sites is probably not older than 15 000 years, which is the maximum age of the formation. Estimates of velocity showed less agreement at study sites in the Lake Border moraine system to the east and ranged from about 0.2 to 20.7 cm year-1; maximum groundwater age could range from 213 to 6000 years. Higher and more variable velocities, perhaps owing to thinner and more heterogeneous sediment in these areas, suggest that diffusion may not dominate vertical mass transport. Heterogeneity and fractures may also promote the development of groundwater flow systems dominated by lateral flow. Because of the uncertainty about the nature of groundwater flow, velocity, and age in the formation east of the Tinley moraine, future waste-disposal activity in southeastern Wisconsin should be confined to the thickest parts of the Tinley moraine near the present F-1 and Metro sites. ?? 1992.
Additional Publication Details
Groundwater flow, velocity, and age in a thick, fine-grained till unit in southeastern Wisconsin