Deposition from at least three episodes of glaciation left a complex glacial-drift aquifer system in central Illinois. The deepest and largest of these aquifers, the Sankoty-Mahomet Aquifer, occupies the lower part of a buried bedrock valley and supplies water to communities throughout central Illinois. Thin, discontinuous aquifers are present within glacial drift overlying the Sankoty-Mahomet Aquifer. This study was commissioned by local governments to identify possible areas where a regional water supply could be obtained from the aquifer with minimal adverse impacts on existing users. Geologic information from more than 2200 existing water well logs was supplemented with new data from 28 test borings, water level measurements in 430 wells, and 35 km of surface geophysical profiles. A three-dimensional (3-D) hydrostratigraphic model was developed using a contouring software package, a geographic information system (GIS), and the 3-D geologic modeling package, EarthVision??. The hydrostratigraphy of the glacial-drift sequence was depicted as seven uneven and discontinuous layers, which could be viewed from an infinite number of horizontal and vertical slices and as solid models of any layer. Several iterations were required before the 3-D model presented a reasonable depiction of the aquifer system. Layers from the resultant hydrostratigraphic model were imported into MODFLOW, where they were modified into continuous layers. This approach of developing a 3-D hydrostratigraphic model can be applied to other areas where complex aquifer systems are to be modeled and is also useful in helping lay audiences visualize aquifer systems.
Additional publication details
Hydrostratigraphic modeling of a complex, glacial-drift aquifer system for importation into MODFLOW