Few hydrology studies have investigated glacial till older than Illinoian time (> 300,000 BP) despite these older tills overlying a large portion of North America. An 8- and 6-well monitoring well nest installed into a 31 m thick pre-Illinoian till sequence near Cedar Rapids, Iowa was characterized using traditional hydrologic methods and chemical tracers. The aquitard system consists of about 9 m of fine-grained oxidized pre-Illinoian till overlying 22 m of unoxidized till and Devonian dolomite bedrock. Hydraulic conductivity ranged from 10-7 m/s in oxidized till and 10-10 m/s in unoxidized till. Hydraulic head relations indicated downward groundwater flow through the till profile with hydraulic gradients steepest near the unoxidized till/bedrock interface. Tritium and nitrate concentrations indicated recent (< 50 years old) recharge to a depth of 9-12 m below land surface. 18O and 2H results ranged between -6.2 to -7.9% and -38.0 to -50.9%, respectively, and plotted near the local Meteoric Water Line. A 1 per mil shift toward less negative 18O values with depth may suggest a climate change signal contained in the till water but more data are needed to verify this trend. Vertical groundwater velocity through the unoxidized till was estimated to range from 0.4 to 5.7 cm/year. The thickness of unoxidized pre-Illinoian till in Linn County was estimated from available records and contoured against vertical travel times to evaluate the effectiveness of pre-Illinoian till in preventing nitrate migration to underlying bedrock aquifers. ?? Springer-Verlag 2006.
Additional publication details
Groundwater flow and velocity in a 500 ka pre-Illinoian till, eastern Iowa