Salt-water encroachment in southern Nassau and southeastern Queens Counties, Long Island, New York

Water Supply Paper 1613-F




Test drilling, extraction of water from cores, electric logging, water sampling, and water-level measurements from 1958 to 1961 provided a suitable basis for a substantial refinement in the definition of the positions, chloride concentrations, and rates of movement of salty water in the intermediate and deep deposits of southern Nassau County and southeastern Queens County. Filter-press, centrifugal, and dilution methods were used to extract water from cores for chloride analysis at the test-drilling sites. Chloride analysis of water extracted by these methods, chloride analyses of water from wells, and the interpretation of electric logs helped to define the chloride content of the salty water. New concepts of environmental-water head and zerovels, developed during the investigation, proved useful for defining hydraulic gradients and ratee of flow in ground water of variable density in a vertical direction and in horizontal and inclined planes, respectively. Hydraulic gradients in and between fresh and salty water were determined from water levels from data at individual and multiple-observation wells. Salty ground water occurs in southern Nassau and southeastern Queens Counties as three wedgelike extensions that project landward in unconsolidated deposits from a main body of salty water that lies seaward of the barrier beaches in Nassau County and of Jamaica Bay in Queens County. Salty water occurs not only in permeable deposits but also in the shallow and deep clay deposits. The highest chloride content of the salty ground water in the main body and the wedges is about 16,000 ppm, which is about 1,000 to 2,000 ppm less than the chloride content of ocean water. The shallow salty water in the Pleistocene and Recent deposits is connected freely with the bays, tidal estuaries, and ocean. The intermediate wedge is found only in the southwestern part of Nassau County in the upper part of the Magothy (?) Formation, in the Jamneco Gravel, and in the overlying clay deposits. It extends from the seaward areas inland about 2 miles into Island Park. The deep wedge extends into southeastern Queens County and southern Nassau County principally in the deeper parts of the Magothy (?) Formation and in the underlying clay member of the Raritan Formation. The leading edge of the deep wedge is at the base of the Magothy (?) Formation. This edge is apparently at the shoreline east of Lido Beach and extends inland about 4 miles to Woodmere and about 7 miles to South Ozone Park. Zones of diffusion as much as 6 miles wide and about 500 feet thick were delineated in the frontal part of the salty-water wedges. These thick and broad zones of diffusion were probably formed during the past 1,000 or more years in heterogeneous unconsolidated deposits by long- and short-term changes in sea level and in fresh-water outflow to the sea and by dispersion caused by the movements of the water and its salt mass. Changes in sea level and fresh-water outflow together produced appreciable advances and recessions of the salt-water front. The chemical compositions of the diffused water in all wedges are modified to some extent by base exchange and other physical and chemical processes and also by diffusion. The intermediate wedge of salty water is moving landward at a rate of less than 20 feet a year in the vicinity of Island Park and, thus, has moved less than 1,000 feet since 1900. The leading edge of the deep wedge has advanced landward at about 300 feet a :ear in Woodmere in southwestern Nassau County and about 160 feet a year at South Ozone Park in southeastern Queens County, principally under the influence of local withdrawals near the toe of the wedge. Between Hewlett and Lido Beach, the deep wedge is moving inland at the rate of about 10 feet a year under the influence of regional withdrawals in inland areas. Regional encroachment of the deep wedge is apparently retarded appreciably by cyclic flow, that is, by the return seaward in the upper

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Salt-water encroachment in southern Nassau and southeastern Queens Counties, Long Island, New York
Series title:
Water Supply Paper
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. G.P.O.,
iv, 76 p. :ill., maps ;24 cm.