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Flow of ground water through fractured carbonate rocks in the Prairie du Chien-Jordan Aquifer, southeastern Minnesota

January 1, 1989

Contamination of groundwater from point and nonpoint sources (such as landfills, feedlots, agricultural chemicals applied to fields, and septic systems) is a recognized problem in the karst area of southeastern Minnesota. The US Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources, Began a study in October 1987 to improve the understanding of local groundwater flow through karst terrain in southeastern Minnesota. The objectives of the study are to: (1) describe the orientations of systematic rock fractures and solution channels of the Prairie du Chien Group of Ordovician-age carbonate rocks in southeastern Minnesota, and, if possible, to define the principal and minor axes of these orientations; and (2) evaluate the effect of fractures and solution channels in the Prairie du Chien Group on the local flow of groundwater. Groundwater in the Upper Carbonate aquifer regionally flows toward the periphery of the aquifer and locally flows into streams and bedrock valleys. The hydraulic gradient in this aquifer generally is greatest near areas of groundwater seepage to streams. Regional groundwater flow in the Prairie du Chien-Jordan aquifer generally is to the south and east in much of Fillmore and Houston Counties and in the southern parts of Olmsted and Winona Counties. Groundwater seepage to selected streams was evaluated by current-meter measurements of downstream gains or losses of streamflow and by an experimental approach based on radon activity in streams. The activity of radon in groundwater ranges from two to four orders of magnitude greater than the activity in surface water; therefore, groundwater seepage to streams generally increases the in-stream radon activity.

Publication Year 1989
Title Flow of ground water through fractured carbonate rocks in the Prairie du Chien-Jordan Aquifer, southeastern Minnesota
DOI 10.3133/ofr89253
Authors J. F. Ruhl
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 89-253
Index ID ofr89253
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Minnesota Water Science Center