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Framework for Evaluating Water Quality of the New England Crystalline Rock Aquifers

January 28, 2009

Little information exists on regional ground-water-quality patterns for the New England crystalline rock aquifers (NECRA). A systematic approach to facilitate regional evaluation is needed for several reasons. First, the NECRA are vulnerable to anthropogenic and natural contaminants such as methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), arsenic, and radon gas. Second, the physical characteristics of the aquifers, termed 'intrinsic susceptibility', can lead to variable and degraded water quality. A framework approach for characterizing the aquifer region into areas of similar hydrogeology is described in this report and is based on hypothesized relevant physical features and chemical conditions (collectively termed 'variables') that affect regional patterns of ground-water quality. A framework for comparison of water quality across the NECRA consists of a group of spatial variables related to aquifer properties, hydrologic conditions, and contaminant sources. These spatial variables are grouped under four general categories (features) that can be mapped across the aquifers: (1) geologic, (2) hydrophysiographic, (3) land-use land-cover, and (4) geochemical. On a regional scale, these variables represent indicators of natural and anthropogenic sources of contaminants, as well as generalized physical and chemical characteristics of the aquifer system that influence ground-water chemistry and flow. These variables can be used in varying combinations (depending on the contaminant) to categorize the aquifer into areas of similar hydrogeologic characteristics to evaluate variation in regional water quality through statistical testing.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2008
Title Framework for Evaluating Water Quality of the New England Crystalline Rock Aquifers
DOI 10.3133/ofr20081282
Authors Philip T. Harte, Gilpin R. Robinson, Joseph D. Ayotte, Sarah M. Flanagan
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2008-1282
Index ID ofr20081282
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center