Increased ground-water contamination from human activities on Long Island has prompted studies to define the pattern and rate of ground-water movement. A two-dimensional, fine-mesh, finite-element model consisting of 11,969 nodes and 22,880 elements was constructed to represent ground-water flow along a north-south section through central Long Island. The model represents average hydrologic conditions within a corridor approximately 15 miles wide. The model solves discrete approximations of both the potential and stream functions. The resulting flownet depicts flow paths and defines the vertical distribution of flow within the section. Ground-water flow rates decrease with depth. Sixty-two percent of the water flows no deeper than the upper glacial (water-table) aquifer, 38 percent enters the underlying Magothy aquifer, and only 3.1 percent enters the Lloyd aquifer. The limiting streamlines for flow to the Magothy and Lloyd aquifers indicate that aquifer recharge areas are narrow east-west bands through the center of the island. The recharge area of the Magothy aquifer is only 5.4 miles wide; that of the Lloyd aquifer is less than 0.5 miles. The distribution of ground-water traveltime and a flownet are calculated from model results; both are useful in the investigation of contaminant transport or the chemical evolution of ground water within the flow system. A major discontinuity in traveltime occurs across the streamline which separates the flow subsystems of the two confined aquifers. Water that reaches the Lloyd aquifer attains traveltimes as high as 10,000 years, whereas water that has not penetrated deeper than the Magothy aquifer attains traveltimes of only 2,000 years. The finite-element approach used in this study is particularly suited to ground-water systems that have complex hydrostratigraphy and cross-sectional symmetry.
Additional publication details
Patterns and rates of ground-water flow on Long Island, New York