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Conceptual groundwater-flow diagram.

Detailed Description

Groundwater flows different rates

As the diagram shows, the direction and speed of groundwater movement is determined by the various characteristics of aquifers and confining layers of subsurface rocks (which water has a difficult time penetrating) in the ground. Water moving below ground depends on the permeability (how easy or difficult it is for water to move) and on the porosity (the amount of open space in the material) of the subsurface rock. If the rock has characteristics that allow water to move relatively freely through it, then groundwater can move significant distances in a number of days. But groundwater can also sink into deep aquifers where it takes thousands of years to move back into the environment, or even go into deep groundwater storage, where it might stay for much longer periods.


Public Domain.