Ground-Water Resources and the Hydrologic Effects of Petroleum Occurrence and Development, Warren County, Northwestern Pennsylvania

Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5263

Prepared in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey and the Warren County Commissioners



Most of the northern half of Warren County is in the Northwestern Glaciated Plateau Section of the Appalachian Plateaus Physiographic Province. The remainder of the county is in the High Plateau Section. The glacial outwash sand and gravel hydrogeologic unit is the most extensively used unconsolidated unit for water supply in Warren County because it is capable of yielding large amounts of water to wells and it is situated in populated valleys. The median well yield for 47 specific- capacity tests was 25 gal/min (gallons per minute); well yields ranged from 2 to 1,600 gal/min. Acceptable well yields for domestic supply also are available from other unconsolidated hydrogeologic units including alluvium, colluvium, glacial drift, ice-contact stratified sand and gravel, and undifferentiated alluvium and glacial lacustrine. The median well yields during specific-capacity tests of wells in these five hydrogeologic units ranged from 8 to 18 gal/min. A comparison of the median specific capacities for wells in the unconsolidated and bedrock hydrogeologic units indicates that wells completed in the outwash sand and gravel hydrogeologic unit had the highest median specific capacity of 6.0 (gal/min)/ft (gallons per minute per foot); specific capacities for wells completed in the outwash sand and gravel unit ranged from 0.14 to 300 (gal/min)/ft. For wells completed in the bedrock hydrogeologic units, their corresponding median specific capacities are Pottsville Group, 0.5 (gal/min)/ft; Shenango Formation, 0.44 (gal/min)/ft; Cuyahoga Formation, 0.24 (gal/min)/ft; Knapp Formation, 0.45 (gal/min)/ft; Corry Sandstone through Riceville Formation, 0.67 (gal/min)/ft; Riceville Formation, 1.5 (gal/min)/ft; Oswayo Formation, 0.07 (gal/min)/ft; Venango Formation, 1.0 (gal/min)/ft; and Chadakoin Formation, 0.71 (gal/min)/ft. Annual precipitation at Warren for the years 1984-87 was above the long-term mean. The 4-year average of the annual hydrologic balance for 1984 indicated 40 percent of the precipitation was lost to evapotranspiration. Ground-water discharge, commonly defined as base flow, accounted for about 29 percent of precipitation, and surface runoff made up 31 percent. During 1984-87, ground-water discharge made up from 47 to 50 percent of total runoff or streamflow. In 1990, ground-water withdrawals made up only 1.3 percent [13.8 Mgal/d (million gallons per day)] of the total withdrawals for the county. However, ground water is the predominant source for domestic, municipal, and industrial water supplies in Warren County outside of the larger cities. Concentrations of dissolved iron exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) of 300 ug/L (micrograms per liter) in 95 of the 266 wells sampled (36 percent). The Riceville Formation is the only hydrogeologic unit in which ground-water samples did not exceed the SMCL for dissolved iron. Median concentrations of dissolved iron ranged from 50 ug/L in samples from the Shenango and Riceville Formations to 2,350 ug/L in samples from the alluvium and glacial lacustrine, undifferentiated unit. Concentrations of dissolved manganese exceeded the USEPA SMCL in samples from 155 of the 260 wells sampled (60 percent). Samples from at least 40 percent of the wells in each hydrogeologic unit exceeded the SMCL for dissolved manganese, indicating a widespread problem in the county. The median concentrations of dissolved manganese ranged from 25 ug/L in the glacial outwash sand and gravel, the Cuyahoga Formation, and the Riceville Formation to 450 ug/L in the alluvium and glacial lacustrine, undifferentiated. Concentrations of total dissolved solids exceeded the USEPA SMCL of 500 mg/L in samples from 9 of the 257 wells sampled (3.5 percent). The median concentrations ranged from 66 mg/L in samples from the Pottsville Group to 308 mg/L in samples from the Catskill and Venango Formations. Most samples contained less than 1,000 mg/L total dissolve

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-Water Resources and the Hydrologic Effects of Petroleum Occurrence and Development, Warren County, Northwestern Pennsylvania
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
Geological Survey (U.S.)
Contributing office(s):
Pennsylvania Water Science Center
Report: viii, 86 p.; Appendix; Explanations
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