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Stratigraphic test well, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts

Circular 773

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Abstract

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Water Resources Commission and the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, continuously cored 514 m of sediment and volcanic rock in a stratigraphic and water-quality test near the geographic center of Nantucket Island. Stratified sediments were divided texturally into three zones: the upper zone (0-128 m) contains mostly coarse sand and gravel; the middle zone (128-349 m) contains mostly silty clay and a few beds of sand and silt; and the lower zone (349-457 m) contains soft, unconsolidated, clayey sand. Below the lower zone, a saprolite, composed mostly of clay, grades abruptly downward at 470 m into partially altered basalt that extends to the bottom of the hole at 514 m. Calculations based on the Ghyben-Herzberg principle predicted a zone of freshwater 120-150 m thick. This principle is the theory of hydrostatic equilibrium between freshwater and more dense seawater in a coastal aquifer; it states that for each meter of ground-water elevation above sea level, the freshwater lens will depress the saltwater interface about 40 m below sea level. Freshwater or low-salinity brackish water was found in sediments far below the depth predicted by the Ghyben-Herzberg principle. These interstitial waters are probably relict ground water emplaced during times of low sea level during the Pleistocene. (Woodard-USGS)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Stratigraphic test well, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts
Series title:
Circular
Series number:
773
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1978
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
iii, 28 p. :ill., maps ;26 cm.