Hydrogeologic framework, hydrology, and refined conceptual model of groundwater flow for Coastal Plain aquifers at the Standard Chlorine of Delaware, Inc. Superfund Site, New Castle County, Delaware, 2005-12

Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5224
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
By: , and 



From 1966 to 2002, activities at the Standard Chlorine of Delaware chemical facility in New Castle County, Delaware resulted in the contamination of groundwater, soils, and wetland sediment. In 2005, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3, and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control began a multi-year investigation of the hydrogeologic framework and hydrology of the confined aquifer system. The goals of the ongoing study at the site (the Potomac Aquifer Study) are to determine the hydraulic connection between the Columbia and Potomac aquifers, determine the direction of groundwater flow in the Potomac aquifer, and identify factors affecting the fate of contaminated groundwater. This report describes progress made towards these goals based on available data collected through September 2012.

The regional hydrogeologic framework indicates that the site is underlain by Coastal Plain sediments of the Columbia, Merchantville, and Potomac Formations. Two primary aquifers underlying the site, the Columbia and the upper Potomac, are separated by the Merchantville Formation confining unit. Local groundwater flow in the surficial (Columbia) aquifer is controlled by topography and generally flows northward and discharges to nearby surface water. Regional flow within the Potomac aquifer is towards the southeast, and is strongly influenced by major water withdrawals locally. Previous investigations at the site indicated that contaminants, primarily benzene and chlorinated benzene compounds, were present in the Columbia aquifer in most locations; however, there were only limited detections in the upper Potomac aquifer as of 2004. From 2005 through 2012, the USGS designed a monitoring network, assisted with exploratory drilling, collected data at monitoring wells, conducted geophysical surveys, evaluated water-level responses in wells during pumping of a production well, and evaluated major aquifer withdrawals. Data collected through these efforts were used to refine the local conceptual flow system. The refined conceptual flow system for the site includes: (a) identification of gaps in confining units in the study area, (b) identification and correlation of multiple water-bearing sand intervals within the upper Potomac Formation, (c) connections between groundwater and surface water, (d) connections between shallow and deeper groundwater, (e) new water-level (or potentiometric surface) maps and inferred flow directions, and (f) identification of major local pumping well influences. The implications of the revised conceptual flow system on the occurrence and movement of site contaminants are that the resulting detection of contaminants in the upper Potomac aquifer at specific well locations can be attributed primarily to either advective lateral transport, direct vertical contaminant transport, or a combination of vertical and lateral movement resulting from changes in water withdrawal rates over time.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydrogeologic framework, hydrology, and refined conceptual model of groundwater flow for Coastal Plain aquifers at the Standard Chlorine of Delaware, Inc. Superfund Site, New Castle County, Delaware, 2005-12
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2014-5224
DOI 10.3133/sir20145224
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Maryland Water Science Center
Description vii, 61 p.
Time Range Start 2005-01-01
Time Range End 2012-09-30
Country United States
State Delaware
County New Castle County
Datum North American Datum of 1983
Projection State Plane Delaware Projection
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details