Hydrogeologic framework of western Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Hydrologic Atlas 741
By: , and 



The aquifer of western Cape Cod consists of several hydrogeologic units composed of sand, gravel, silt, and clay (fig. 1) that were deposited during the late Wisconsinan glaciation of New England. The aquifer is a shallow, unconfined hydrologic system in which ground-water flows radially outward from the apex of the ground-water mound near the center of the peninsula toward the coast (fig.2). The aquifer is the sole source of water supply for the towns of Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, and Mashpee, and the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR).
Previous geologic studies summarized the characteristics and relative ages of the glacial moraines and meltwater deposits and the relation of these sediments to the extent of the ice-sheet lobes during the last glaciation of southern New England (Oldale and Barlow, 1986; Hartshorn and others, 1991). Hydrogeologic studies in western Cape Cod characterized the shallow regional ground-water-flow system (LeBlanc and others, 1986) and analyzed simulated responses of the aquifer to changes in hydrologic stresses (Guswa and LeBlanc, 1985; Barlow and Hess, 1993; Masterson and Barlow, 1994; and Masterson and others, 1996). Recent concerns about widespread ground-water contamination, especially from sources on the MMR, have resulted in extensive investigations to characterize the local hydrogeology of the aquifer near the MMR (ABB Environmental Services, 1992). Masterson and others (1996) illustrated the strong influence of geology on ground-water flow and the importance of characterizing the hydrogeology to predict the migration of the contaminant plumes beneath the MMR.
This report, a product of a cooperative study between the National Guard Bureau and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), characterizes the regional hydrogeology of the western Cape Cod aquifer on the basis of surficial glacial geology previously described by Mather and others (1940) and Oldale and Barlow (1986), and presents a new analysis of the subsurface hydrogeology. The characterization of the regional hydrogeologic framework includes a detailed analysis of the glacial sediments, including deltaic and lacustrine deposits and their sedimentary facies; a structure-contour analysis of the transition between the shallow sand and gravel deposits and the underlying fine sand, silt, and clay deposits; and a summary of the relation between lithologic characteristics (grain size and stratigraphy) and empirically determined hydraulic-conductivity values.


Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydrogeologic framework of western Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Series title Hydrologic Atlas
Series number 741
DOI 10.3133/ha741
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) New England Water Science Center, Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 1 Plate: 41.50 x 50.00 inches
Country United States
State Massachusetts
Other Geospatial Cape Cod
Scale 50000
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details