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Regional ground-water flow and geochemistry in the Midwest Basins and Arches aquifer system in parts of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois

Professional Paper 1423-C

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Abstract

This report synthesizes information on the regional ground-water flow and geochemistry in the Midwestern Basins and Arches aquifer system in parts of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. Aquifers that compose this water-table aquifer system include glacial aquifers and an underlying, areally extensive carbonate-rock aquifer. Water within the aquifers is most commonly a Ca-Mg-HCO3 type or a Ca-Mg-SO4 type. In general, the distribution of hydrochemical facies within the aquifer system is controlled by the mineralogy of the aquifer material, rather than by a chemical evolution of water along general directions of regional ground-water flow.Some ground-water flow systems within the aquifer system provide base flow to streams in response to ground-water recharge events. Other (often deeper) ground-water flow systems respond minimally to variations in ground-water recharge from precipitation and provide a fairly constant supply of water to streams. Streamflow hydrographs and base-flow duration curves were used to estimate such components of base flow in selected streams for long-term steady-state conditions in the aquifer system. Mean sustained ground-water discharge (discharge from fairly stable ground-water flow systems) ranges from 3 to 50 percent of mean ground-water discharge (discharge from all ground-water flow systems) to the selected stream reaches. These percentages indicate that 50 to 97 percent of base flow in the streams within the study area can be attributed to transient ground-water flow systems, which typically have a major component of local-scale flow. Because ground-water flow across the external boundaries of the aquifer system is minimal, such percentages indicate that most ground-water flow in the aquifer system is associated with seasonally transient local flow systems.Results of a ground-water flow model that was calibrated by use of regression methods and that simulates regional flow systems within the aquifer system (approximately 10 percent of total ground-water flow in the aquifer system) indicate that most water (99 percent) in simulated regional flow systems is from recharge at the water table. Most water (78 percent) discharges from simulated regional flow systems to the principal streams. Less than 3 percent of water in simulated regional flow systems discharges to the Ohio River, Lake Erie, or downdip areas in the Illinois (structural) Basin. Simulations also indicate that most of the Midwestern Basins and Arches aquifer system is characterized by alternating regional recharge and discharge areas at intervals of less than every 10 miles along the dominant regional trends of the potentiometric surfaces in the aquifers. Such alternating regional recharge and discharge areas result in the absence of long flow paths from the very highest regional potentiometric levels to the very lowest regional potentiometric levels. The presence of tritiated ground water (less than 50 years old) across most of the aquifer system also indicates that the aquifer system receives recharge across most of the study area.The northeastern part of the aquifer system near Lake Erie differs from the rest of the system with respect to regional ground-water flow and chemistry. Specifically, part of the northeastern part of the aquifer system can be characterized as a broad area (tens of miles) of weak regional discharge (less than 0.5 inch per year). Results of the regional ground-water flow model indicate that regional flow systems have a limited ability to carry ground water away from this area; thus precipitation is prevented from recharging the regional flow systems in this part of the aquifer system. Some ground water recharged during Pleistocene glaciation was found in this area. Sulfide concentrations and sulfur isotope data, which indicate that extensive sulfate reduction has occurred in the aquifer system within this area, confirm that only minimal recharge of this part of the aquifer system has taken place over a long

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Regional ground-water flow and geochemistry in the Midwest Basins and Arches aquifer system in parts of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois
Series title:
Professional Paper
Series number:
1423
Chapter:
C
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2000
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
p. C1-C103