Ground-Water System, Estimation of Aquifer Hydraulic Properties, and Effects of Pumping on Ground-Water Flow in Triassic Sedimentary Rocks in and near Lansdale, Pennsylvania

Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4228
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
By:  and 



Ground water in Triassic-age sedimentary fractured-rock aquifers in the area of Lansdale, Pa., is used as drinking water and for industrial supply. In 1979, ground water in the Lansdale area was found to be contaminated with trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and other man-made organic compounds, and in 1989, the area was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) National Priority List as the North Penn Area 6 site. To assist the USEPA in the hydrogeological assessment of the site, the U.S. Geological Survey began a study in 1995 to describe the ground-water system and to determine the effects of changes in the well pumping patterns on the direction of ground-water flow in the Lansdale area. This determination is based on hydrologic and geophysical data collected from 1995-98 and on results of the simulation of the regional ground-water-flow system by use of a numerical model.

Correlation of natural-gamma logs indicate that the sedimentary rock beds strike generally northeast and dip at angles less than 30 degrees to the northwest. The ground-water system is confined or semi-confined, even at shallow depths; depth to bedrock commonly is less than 20 feet (6 meters); and depth to water commonly is about 15 to 60 feet (5 to 18 meters) below land surface. Single-well, aquifer-interval-isolation (packer) tests indicate that vertical permeability of the sedimentary rocks is low. Multiple-well aquifer tests indicate that the system is heterogeneous and that flow appears primarily in discrete zones parallel to bedding. Preferred horizontal flow along strike was not observed in the aquifer tests for wells open to the pumped interval. Water levels in wells that are open to the pumped interval, as projected along the dipping stratigraphy, are drawn down more than water levels in wells that do not intersect the pumped interval. A regional potentiometric map based on measured water levels indicates that ground water flows from Lansdale towards discharge areas in three drainages, the Wissahickon, Towamencin, and Neshaminy Creeks.

Ground-water flow was simulated for different pumping patterns representing past and current conditions. The three-dimensional numerical flow model (MODFLOW) was automatically calibrated by use of a parameter estimation program (MODFLOWP). Steady-state conditions were assumed for the calibration period of 1996. Model calibration indicates that estimated recharge is 8.2 inches (208 millimeters) and the regional anisotropy ratio for the sedimentary-rock aquifer is about 11 to 1, with permeability greatest along strike. The regional anisotropy is caused by up- and down-dip termination of high-permeability bed-oriented features, which were not explicitly simulated in the regional-scale model. The calibrated flow model was used to compare flow directions and capture zones in Lansdale for conditions corresponding to relatively high pumping rates in 1994 and to lower pumping rates in 1997. Comparison of the 1994 and 1997 simulations indicates that wells pumped at the lower 1997 rates captured less ground water from known sites of contamination than wells pumped at the 1994 rates. Ground-water flow rates away from Lansdale increased as pumpage decreased in 1997.

A preliminary evaluation of the relation between ground-water chemistry and conditions favorable for the degradation of chlorinated solvents was based on measurements of dissolved-oxygen concentration and other chemical constituents in water samples from 92 wells. About 18 percent of the samples contained less than or equal to 5 milligrams per liter dissolved oxygen, a concentration that indicates reducing conditions favorable for degradation of chlorinated solvents.

Suggested Citation

Senior, L.A., and Goode, D.J., 1999, Ground-water system, estimation of aquifer hydraulic properties, and effects of pumping on ground-water flow in Triassic sedimentary rocks in and near Lansdale, Pennsylvania: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 99–4228, 111 p.,

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Geologic setting
  • Ground-water system
  • Estimation of aquifer hydraulic properties
  • Effect of pumping on ground-water flow
  • Summary and conclusions
  • References cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Ground-water system, estimation of aquifer hydraulic properties, and effects of pumping on ground-water flow in Triassic sedimentary rocks in and near Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 99-4228
DOI 10.3133/wri994228
Year Published 1999
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Pennsylvania Water Science Center
Description viii, 112 p. :]
Scale 24000
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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