Ground water is the primary source of water in the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base area. The aquifer consists of glacial sands and gravels that fill a buried bedrock-valley system. Consolidated rocks in the area consist of poorly permeable Ordovician shale of the Richmondian stage, in the upland areas, the Brassfield Limestone of Silurian age. The valleys are filled with glacial sediments of Wisconsinan age consisting of clay-rich tills and coarse-grained outwash deposits. Estimates of hydraulic conductivity of the shales based on results of displacement/recovery tests range from 0.0016 to 12 feet per day; estimates for the glacial sediments range from less than 1 foot per day to more than 1,000 feet per day.
Ground water flow from the uplands towards the valleys and the major rivers in the region, the Great Miami and the Mad Rivers. Hydraulic-head data indicate that ground water flows between the bedrock and unconsolidated deposits. Data from a gain/loss study of the Mad River System and hydrographs from nearby wells reveal that the reach of the river next to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is a ground-water discharge area.
A steady-state, three-dimensional ground-water-flow model was developed to simulate ground-water flow in the region. The model contains three layers and encompasses about 100 square miles centered on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Ground water enters the modeled area primarily by river leakage and underflow at the model boundary. Ground water exits the modeled area primarily by flow through the valleys at the model boundaries and through production wells. A model sensitivity analysis involving systematic changes in values of hydrologic parameters in the model indicates that the model is most sensitive to decreases in riverbed conductance and vertical conductance between the upper two layers. The analysis also indicates that the contribution of water to the buried-valley aquifer from the bedrock that forms the valley walls is about 2 to 4 percent of the total ground-water flow in the study area.
Ground waters in the vicinity of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base can be classified into two compositional groups on the basis of their chemical composition: calcium magnesium bicarbonate-type and sodium chloride-type waters. Calcium magnesium bicarbonate-type waters are found in the glacial deposits and the Brassfield Limestone, whereas the sodium chloride waters are exclusively associated with the shales. Equilibrium speciation calculations indicate that ground water of the glacial drift aquifer is in equilibrium with calcite, dolomite, and chalcedony, but is undersaturated with respect to gypsum and fluorite. Waters from the shales are slightly supersaturated with respect to calcite, dolomite, and siderite but are undersaturated with respect to chalcedony. Simple-mass balance calculations treating boron as a conservative species indicate that little (< 5 percent) or no recharge from the shales to the glacial drift aquifer takes place.
Data on the stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen indicate a meteoric origin for all ground water beneath Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, but the data were inconclusive with respect to identification of distinct isotopic differences between water collected from the glacial drift and bedrock aquifers. Tritium concentrations used to distinguish waters having a pre-and post-1953 recharge component indicate that most water entered the glacial drift aquifer after 1953. This finding indicates that recharge from shallow to deep parts (greater than 150 feet) of the aquifer takes place over time intervals of a few years or decades. However, the fact that some deep parts of the glacial aquifer did not contain measurable tritium indicates that ground-water flow from recharge zones to these parts of the aquifer takes decades or longer.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrogeology, simulated ground-water flow, and ground-water quality, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Geological Survey ;
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