Hydrogeology

An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, rock fractures or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, or silt) from which groundwater can be extracted using water well. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called hydrogeology. Related terms include aquitard, which is a bed of low permeability along an aquifer, and aquiclude (or aquifuge), which is a solid, impermeable area underlying or overlying an aquifer. If the impermeable area overlies the aquifer, pressure could cause it to become a confined aquifer.

Hydrogeology, 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 and civil 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).

Hydrogeology 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 follow the surface topography; groundwater follows pressure gradients (flow from high pressure to low), often through 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. 

 

  • Aquifers and ecosystems
  • Aquifers in agriculture and rain-fed agriculture
  • Urban groundwater
  • Aquifers in drinking water and sanitation programmes

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