Hydrogeologic setting and ground water flow beneath a section of Indian River Bay, Delaware

Ground Water
By: , and 

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Abstract

The small bays along the Atlantic coast of the Delmarva Peninsula (Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) are a valuable natural resource, and an asset for commerce and recreation. These coastal bays also are vulnerable to eutrophication from the input of excess nutrients derived from agriculture and other human activities in the watersheds. Ground water discharge may be an appreciable source of fresh water and a transport pathway for nutrients entering the bays. This paper presents results from an investigation of the physical properties of the surficial aquifer and the processes associated with ground water flow beneath Indian River Bay, Delaware. A key aspect of the project was the deployment of a new technology, streaming horizontal resistivity, to map the subsurface distribution of fresh and saline ground water beneath the bay. The resistivity profiles showed complex patterns of ground water flow, modes of mixing, and submarine ground water discharge. Cores, gamma and electromagnetic-induction logs, and in situ ground water samples collected during a coring operation in Indian River Bay verified the interpretation of the resistivity profiles. The shore-parallel resistivity lines show subsurface zones of fresh ground water alternating with zones dominated by the flow of salt water from the estuary down into the aquifer. Advective flow produces plumes of fresh ground water 400 to 600 m wide and 20 m thick that may extend more than 1 km beneath the estuary. Zones of dispersive mixing between fresh and saline ground water develop on the upper, lower, and lateral boundaries of the the plume. the plumes generally underlie small incised valleys that can be traced landward to stream draining the upland. The incised valleys are filled with 1 to 2 m of silt and peat that act as a semiconfining layer to restrict the downward flow of salt water from the estuary. Active circulation of both the fresh and saline ground water masses beneath the bay is inferred from the geophysical results and supported by geochemical data.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrogeologic setting and ground water flow beneath a section of Indian River Bay, Delaware
Series title Ground Water
DOI 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2004.tb02642.x
Volume 42
Issue 7
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Coastal and Marine Geology Program, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 17 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Ground Water
First page 1035
Last page 1051
Country United States
State Delaware
Other Geospatial Indian River Bay