Ground-water vulnerability maps are designed to show areas of greatest potential for ground-water contamination on the basis of hydrogeologic and anthropogenic (human) factors. The maps are developed by using computer mapping hardware and software called a geographic information system (GIS) to combine data layers such as land use, soils, and depth to water. Usually, ground-water vulnerability is determined by assigning point ratings to the individual data layers and then adding the point ratings together when those layers are combined into a vulnerability map.
Probably the most widely used ground-water vulnerability mapping method is DRASTIC, named for the seven factors considered in the method: Depth to water, net Recharge, Aquifer media, Soil media, Topography, Impact of vadose zone media, and hydraulic Conductivity of the aquifer (Aller and others, 1985, p. iv).
The DRASTIC method has been used to develop ground-water vulnerability maps in many parts of the Nation; however, the effectiveness of the method has met with mixed success (Koterba and others, 1993, p. 513; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1993; Barbash and Resek, 1996; Rupert, 1997). DRASTIC maps usually are not calibrated to measured contaminant concentrations. The DRASTIC ground-water vulnerability mapping method was improved by calibrating the point rating scheme to measured nitrite plus nitrate as nitrogen (NO2+NO3–N) concentrations in ground water on the basis of statistical correlations between NO2+NO3–N concentrations and land use, soils, and depth to water (Rupert, 1997). This report describes the calibration method developed by Rupert and summarizes the improvements in results of this method over those of the uncalibrated DRASTIC method applied by Rupert and others (1991) in the eastern Snake River Plain, Idaho.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Improvements to the DRASTIC ground-water vulnerability mapping method