File Entry: Groundwater Hydrodynamic

Created: 2016-05-10 17:44:09
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Version created on: 2016-05-10 17:44:09


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Hydro geology (hydro- meaning water, and -geology meaning the study of the Earth) is the area of geology that deals with the distribution and movement of groundwater in the soil and rocks of the Earth's crust (commonly in aquifers). The term geo-hydrology is often used interchangeably. Some make the minor distinction between a hydrologist or engineer applying themselves to geology (geo-hydrology), and a geologist applying themselves to hydrology (hydro-geology).

Hydro-geology is an interdisciplinary subject; it can be difficult to account fully for the chemical, physical, biological and even legal interactions between soil, water,nature and society. The study of the interaction between groundwater movement and geology can be quite complex. Groundwater does not always flow in the subsurface down-hill following the surface topography; groundwater follows pressure gradients (flow from high pressure to low) often following fractures and conduits in circuitous paths. Taking into account the interplay of the different facets of a multi-component system often requires knowledge in several diverse fields at both the experimental and theoretical levels. The following is a more traditional introduction to the methods and nomenclature of saturated subsurface hydrology, or simply the study of ground water content.

Hydrogeology, as stated above, is a branch of the earth sciences dealing with the flow of water through aquifers and other shallow porous media (typically less than 450 m or 1,500 ft below the land surface.) The very shallow flow of water in the subsurface (the upper 3 m or 10 ft) is pertinent to the fields of soil science, agriculture andcivil engineering, as well as to hydrogeology. The general flow of fluids (water, hydrocarbons, geothermal fluids, etc.) in deeper formations is also a concern of geologists, geophysicists and petroleum geologists. Groundwater is a slow-moving, viscous fluid (with a Reynolds number less than unity); many of the empirically derived laws of groundwater flow can be alternately derived in fluid mechanics from the special case of Stokes flow (viscosity and pressure terms, but no inertial term).

The mathematical relationships used to describe the flow of water through porous media are the diffusion and Laplace equations, which have applications in many diverse fields. Steady groundwater flow (Laplace equation) has been simulated using electrical, elastic and heat conduction analogies. Transient groundwater flow is analogous to the diffusion of heat in a solid, therefore some solutions to hydrological problems have been adapted from heat transfer literature.

Traditionally, the movement of groundwater has been studied separately from surface water, climatology, and even the chemical and microbiological aspects of hydrogeology (the processes are uncoupled). As the field of hydrogeology matures, the strong interactions between groundwater, surface water, water chemistry, soil moisture and even climate are becoming more clear.

For example: Aquifer draw-down or over drafting and the pumping of fossil water may be a contributing factor to sea-level rise.


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