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Hydrogeologic Framework in Three Drainage Basins in the New Jersey Pinelands, 2004-06

October 25, 2008

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, began a multi-phase hydrologic investigation in 2004 to characterize the hydrologic system supporting the aquatic and wetland communities of the New Jersey Pinelands area (Pinelands). The Pinelands is an ecologically diverse area in the southern New Jersey Coastal Plain underlain by the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system. The demand for ground water from this aquifer system is increasing as local development increases. To assess the effects of ground-water withdrawals on Pinelands stream and wetland water levels, three drainage basins were selected for detailed hydrologic assessments, including the Albertson Brook, McDonalds Branch and the Morses Mill Stream basins. Study areas were defined surrounding the three drainage basins to provide sub-regional hydrogeologic data for the ground-water flow modeling phase of this study.

In the first phase of the hydrologic assessments, a database of hydrogeologic information and a hydrogeologic framework model for each of the three study areas were produced. These framework models, which illustrate typical hydrogeologic variations among different geographic subregions of the Pinelands, are the structural foundation for predictive ground-water flow models to be used in assessing the hydrologic effects of increased ground-water withdrawals.

During 2004-05, a hydrogeologic database was compiled using existing and new geophysical and lithologic data including suites of geophysical logs collected at 7 locations during the drilling of 21 wells and one deep boring within the three study areas. In addition, 27 miles of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surface geophysical data were collected and analyzed to determine the depth and extent of shallow clays in the general vicinity of the streams. On the basis of these data, the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system was divided into 7 layers to construct a hydrogeologic framework model for each study area. These layers are defined by their predominant sediment textures as aquifers and leaky confining layers. The confining layer at the base of the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system, depending on location, is defined as one of two distinct clays of the Kirkwood Formation. The framework models are described using hydrogeologic sections, maps of structure tops of layers, and thickness maps showing variations of sediment textures of the various model layers. The three framework models are similar in structure but unique to their respective study areas.

The hydraulic conductivity of the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system in the vicinity of the three study areas was determined from analysis of 16 slug tests and 136 well-performance tests. The mean values for hydraulic conductivity in the three study areas ranged from about 84 feet per day to 130 feet per day. With the exception of the basal confining layers, the variable and discontinuous nature of clay layers within the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system was confirmed by the geophysical and lithologic records. Leaky confining layers and discontinuous clays are generally more common in the upper part of the aquifer system. Although the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system generally has been considered a water-table aquifer in most areas, localized clays in the aquifer layers and the effectiveness of the leaky confining layers may act to impede the flow of ground water in varying amounts depending on the degree of confinement and the location, duration, and magnitude of the hydraulic stresses applied.

Considerable variability exists in the different sediment textures. The extent to which this hydrogeologic variability can be characterized is constrained by the extent of the available data. Thus, the hydraulic properties of the modeled layers were estimated on the basis of available horizontal hydraulic conductivity data and the range of sediment textures estimated from geophysical and lithologic data.

Publication Year 2008
Title Hydrogeologic Framework in Three Drainage Basins in the New Jersey Pinelands, 2004-06
DOI 10.3133/sir20085061
Authors Richard L. Walker, Pamela A. Reilly, Kara M. Watson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2008-5061
Index ID sir20085061
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New Jersey Water Science Center