Case study for delineating a contributing area to a water-supply well in a fractured crystalline-bedrock aquifer, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania

Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4047

Prepared in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Supply Management
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The Trouts Lane well field in Stewartstown, Pa., was selected as a case study for delineating a contributing area in a fractured crystalline-bedrock aquifer. The study emphasized the importance of refining the understanding of boundary conditions and major heterogeneities that affect ground-water movement to the supply well by conducting (1) fracture-trace mapping, (2) borehole logging and flow measurements, (3) ground-water level monitoring, (4) aquifer testing, and (5) geochemical sampling. Methods and approach used in this study could be applicable for other wells in crystalline-bedrock terranes in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Methods of primary importance for refining the understanding of hydrology at the Trouts Lane well field were the aquifer tests, water-level measurements, and geophysical logging. Results from the constant-discharge aquifer test helped identify a major north-south trending hydraulic connection between supply well SW6 and a domestic-supply well. Aquifer-test results also indicated fractures that transmit most water to the supply well are hydraulically well-connected to the shallow regolith and highly weathered schist. Results from slug tests provided estimates of transmissivity and the nonuniform distribution of transmissivity throughout the well field, indicating the water-producing fractures are not evenly distributed and ground-water velocities must vary considerably throughout the well field. Water levels, which were easy to measure, provided additional evidence of hydraulic connections among wells. More importantly, they allowed the water-table configuration to be mapped. Borehole geophysics and flow measurements within the well were very useful because results indicated water entered supply well SW6 through bedrock fractures at very shallow depths—less than 60 ft below land surface; therefore, the area providing recharge to the well is probably in the immediate vicinity.

Preliminary delineations of the contributing area and the 90-day time-of-travel area were computed from a steady-state water budget and a time-of-travel equation. This easy approach provides insight into the size (but not the shape) of contributing areas. Three other approaches were used to refine the contributing-area shape: (1) uniform-flow equation, (2) water-table mapping, and (3) numerical modeling. The contributing areas computed from each approach differed depending on the simplification of the hydrogeologic framework that was made in each method of analysis. Although the approaches vary in complexity, regardless of the approach used, an estimate of the water-table configuration in the vicinity of the well field was key for making the best possible delineation of the contributing area.

A major limitation of this investigation was the inability to refine the delineation of the time-of-travel area. A time-of-travel area is based on the distance water travels in a given time. Because a few discrete fractures probably supply a significant amount of water to supply well SW6, the effective porosity (and hence, traveltime) of ground water is best estimated using tracers.

Suggested Citation

Barton, G.J., Risser, D.W., Galeone, D.G., Conger, R.W., 1999, Case study for delineating a contributing area to a water-supply well in a fractured crystalline-bedrock aquifer, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 1999-4047, 38 p.,

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Delineating the contributing area
  • Summary and conclusions
  • References cited

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Case study for delineating a contributing area to a water-supply well in a fractured crystalline-bedrock aquifer, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Pennsylvania Water Science Center
vi, 38 p.