Hydrologic conditions, recharge, and baseline water quality of the surficial aquifer system at Jekyll Island, Georgia, 2012-13

Open-File Report 2016-1017
Prepared in cooperation with the Jekyll Island Authority
By:  and 



An increase of groundwater withdrawals from the surficial aquifer system on Jekyll Island, Georgia, prompted an investigation of hydrologic conditions and water quality by the U.S. Geological Survey during October 2012 through December 2013. The study demonstrated the importance of rainfall as the island’s main source of recharge to maintain freshwater resources by replenishing the water table from the effects of hydrologic stresses, primarily evapotranspiration and pumping. Groundwater-flow directions, recharge, and water quality of the water-table zone on the island were investigated by installing 26 shallow wells and three pond staff gages to monitor groundwater levels and water quality in the water-table zone. Climatic data from Brunswick, Georgia, were used to calculate potential maximum recharge to the water-table zone on Jekyll Island. A weather station located on the island provided only precipitation data. Additional meteorological data from the island would enhance potential evapotranspiration estimates for recharge calculations.

Groundwater levels and specific-conductance measurements showed the dependence of freshwater resources on rainfall to recharge the water-table zone of the surficial aquifer system and to influence groundwater flow on Jekyll Island. The unseasonably dry conditions during November 2012 to April 2013 induced saline water infiltration to the water-table zone from the marshland separating the Jekyll River from the island. A strong correlation (R2 = 0.97) of specific conductance to chloride concentration in water samples from wells installed in the water-table zone provided support for the determination of seasonal directions of groundwater flow by confirming salinity changes in the water-table zone. Unseasonably wet conditions during the late spring to August caused groundwater-flow reversals in some areas. The high dependence of the water-table zone in the surficial aquifer system on precipitation to replenish the aquifer with freshwater underscored the importance of monitoring groundwater levels, water quality, and water use to identify aquifer-discharge conditions that have the potential to promote seawater encroachment and degrade freshwater resources on Jekyll Island.

Suggested Citation

Gordon, D.W., and Torak, L.J., 2016, Hydrologic conditions, recharge, and baseline water quality of the surficial aquifer system at Jekyll Island, Georgia, 2012–13: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1017, 34 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161017.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods of Investigation
  • Surficial Aquifer System Water Use
  • Hydrologic Conditions of the Water-Table Zone of the Surficial Aquifer System
  • Baseline Groundwater Quality
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • Selected References
  • Appendix 1. Wells Inventoried for This Study
  • Appendix 2. Construction of Monitoring Wells
  • Appendix 3. Groundwater-Level Measurements Made on November 8, 2012,  April 17, 2013, and August 23, 2013
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydrologic conditions, recharge, and baseline water quality of the surficial aquifer system at Jekyll Island, Georgia, 2012-13
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2016-1017
DOI 10.3133/ofr20161017
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) South Atlantic Water Science Center
Description Report: viii, 34 p.; Appendixes: 1-3
Country United States
State Georgia
Other Geospatial Jekyll Island
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details