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Glacial geology and hydrogeology of valley-fill aquifers in the Oneonta area, Otsego and Delaware Counties, New York

August 19, 2022

The glacial geology and hydrogeology of valley-fill aquifers and their surrounding uplands are described within a 112-square-mile area in southern Otsego and northwestern Delaware Counties, New York, centered around the City of Oneonta. The major valleys include those of the Susquehanna River, Otego Creek, Charlotte Creek, and Schenevus Creek. A variety of data were analyzed to provide a broad picture of the glacial deposits, hydrogeologic framework, aquifer occurrence, and water-resource potential in the area. Both valley-fill and bedrock aquifers are used for water supply within the study area. The valley-fill aquifers consist of coarse-grained stratified drift, are mostly limited to the larger valleys, and have well yields that typically are much greater than those obtained from the bedrock aquifers. The bedrock aquifers generally have lower well yields, are the sole source of groundwater in upland areas, and are tapped in valley areas where sediments are very silty or are absent.

Through and non-through valleys and their orientations relative to ice flow have resulted in a variety of deglacial environments and deposits, some of which depart from glacial stratigraphy typically observed elsewhere in central New York. In comparison to through valleys with low in-valley divides, the regional thinning of ice over the high bedrock divides of the non-through valleys resulted in the earlier and more widespread stagnation of glacial ice, development of dead-ice sinks, and earlier diversion of meltwater from ice north of the divides. As the main through valley in the study area, the Susquehanna River valley is characterized by multiple inferred ice-margin positions with associated outwash deposition or ice-contact deposits. Throughout the study area, valleys orientated parallel or subparallel to the ice flow facilitated the development of long ice tongues; valleys oriented perpendicular to the ice flow led to little ice-tongue development, but they did facilitate the deposition of the extensive kame moraines that now occupy several-mile-long valley reaches. Lacustrine sediments were deposited in proglacial lakes. These sediments underlie most valleys that were oriented parallel and subparallel to ice flow, but they are largely absent in the Charlotte Creek valley, which was oriented perpendicular to the ice flow and now contains an extensive kame moraine. Beneath these lacustrine deposits, sand and gravel were deposited as subaqueous fans, eskers, and the distal parts of delta (kame) terraces, each with variable silt content.

The presence of coarse-grained stratified deposits, their saturated thicknesses, and their recharge potential are the primary controls on aquifer locations in the study area. The most widespread aquifers in the study area consist of sand and gravel and are confined mostly beneath lacustrine deposits. Confined aquifer yields are enhanced by hydraulic connections with unconfined ice-contact deposits along the valley walls, especially where tributary streams cross these deposits and provide additional recharge through streambed infiltration. The Susquehanna River and other large valley creeks provide a potentially large source of recharge to aquifers where groundwater withdrawals from nearby production wells induce infiltration of river water into aquifers. Unconfined aquifers are present where ice-contact deposits extend below the valley floor and are sufficiently saturated. Most surficial outwash deposits in the study area are thinly saturated; thus their water-resource potential is likely to be limited.

The upland areas contain very little stratified drift; therefore, characterization was limited to delineating areas of thick till and thin, or absent, till. Recharge of bedrock aquifers is greatest in areas overlain by thin till or where bedrock is exposed at land surface.

Publication Year 2022
Title Glacial geology and hydrogeology of valley-fill aquifers in the Oneonta area, Otsego and Delaware Counties, New York
DOI 10.3133/sir20225069
Authors Paul M. Heisig, P. Jay Fleisher
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2022-5069
Index ID sir20225069
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center