Geology and ground-water resources of southeastern New Hampshire

Water Supply Paper 1695




The continued growth and development of southeastern New Hampshire, an area of about 390 square miles adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, will depend partly on effectively satisfying the demand for water, which has increased rapidly since World War II. The report identifies and describes the principal geologic units with respect to the occurrence of ground water. These units include bedrock and the various unconsolidated deposits that mantle the bedrock surface discontinuously throughout the area. The bedrock formations, consisting of igneous and metamorphic rocks, chiefly of Paleozoic age, form a single water-bearing unit. Ground water is in joints and fractures. The fractures are small and scattered and therefore impart only a low permeability to the rocks. Wells in the bedrock commonly produce small but reliable supplies of ground water at depths of less than 150 feet. The yields of about 80 wells inventoried for this report ranged from 1? to 100 gpm (gallons per minute) and the median was 912 gpm. Depths ranged from 45 to 600 feet. The unconsolidated deposits consist of glacial drift of Pleistocene age; swamp deposits, alluvium, and beach deposits of Recent age; and eolian deposits of Pleistocene -and Recent age. For this report the glacial drift is divided into till, ice-contact deposits, marine deposits, and outwash and shore deposits. Glacial till forms a discontinuous blanket, commonly less than 15 but in some hills (drumlins) as much as about 200 feet thick. It has a low permeability but, because of its widespread outcrop area, it has been utilized as a source of water for numerous domestic supplies. Because most wells in till are shallow, many fail to meet modern demands during dry summers. Ice-contact deposits locally form kames, kame terraces, kame plains, and ice-channel fillings throughout the area. They overlie bedrock and till and range in thickness from less than 1 foot to as much as 190 feet. In general, the ice-contact deposits are coarse textured and permeable, but variations in- the physical and hydrologic properties of a single deposit and from deposit to deposit are common. Ice-contact deposits are the source of the larger ground-water supplies in southeastern New Hampshire. Marine deposits underlie lowlands and valleys to a distance of about 20 miles inland from the present coastline. They commonly overlie bedrock and till and at places overlie or are interbedded with ice-contact deposits. Marine deposits range in thickness from less than 1 foot to possibly 75 feet. They are fine textured and impermeable; they do not yield water to wells in southeastern New Hampshire but generally act as a barrier to ground-water movement. Outwash and shore deposits form broad sand plains or gently sloping terraces of small extent. At most places the outwash and shore deposits, which range in thickness from less than 1 foot to about 50 feet, overlie marine deposits, but at some places they overlie bedrock, till, or ice-contact deposits. The outwash and shore deposits are fine textured and moderately permeable. They commonly yield enough ground water to meet the needs of farms, homes, and small industries. Alluvium underlies the flood plains and channels of the principal streams and overlies bedrock and older unconsolidated deposits wherever streams cross the older units. The alluvium generally is not tapped by wells. Beach deposits occupy areas along the Atlantic Ocean between promontories of bedrock or till. In general beach deposits are permeable and are a source of water supplies for domestic use. Yields of wells are limited, however, by the danger of drawing in salty water. Recharge in southeastern New Hampshire is derived principally from precipitation on outcrop areas of ice-contact deposits and outwash and shore deposits during the nongrowing season. Ground water is discharged naturally by springs, by effluent seepage to streams and other bodies of surface water, and by evapotranspiration. It

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USGS Numbered Series
Geology and ground-water resources of southeastern New Hampshire
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Water Supply Paper
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U.S. G.P.O.,
v, 80 p. :ill., maps ;24 cm.