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Hydrogeology and analysis of ground-water-flow system, Sagamore Marsh area, southeastern Massachusetts

March 1, 1997

A study of the hydrogeology and an analysis of the ground-water-flow system near Sagamore Marsh, southeastern Massachusetts, was undertaken to improve the understanding of the current (1994­ 95) hydrogeologic conditions near the marsh and how the ground-water system might respond to proposed changes in the tidal-stage regime of streams that flood and drain the marsh. Sagamore Marsh is in a coastal area that is bounded to the east by Cape Cod Bay and to the south by the Cape Cod Canal. The regional geology is characterized by deltaic and glaciolacustrine sediments. The sediments consist of gravel, sand, silt, and clay and are part of the Plymouth-Carver regional aquifer system. The glacial sediments are hounded laterally by marine sand, silt, and clay along the coast. The principal aquifer in the area consists of fine to coarse glacial sand and is locally confined by fine-grained glaciolacustrine deposits consisting of silt and sandy clay and fine-grained salt-marsh sediments consisting of peat and clay. The aquifer is underlain by finer grained glaciolacustrine sediments in upland areas and by marine clay along the coast.

Shallow ground water discharges primarily along the edge of the marsh, whereas deeper ground water flows beneath the marsh and discharges to Cape Cod Bay. Tidal pulses originating from Cape Cod Bay and from tidal channels in the marsh are rapidly attenuated in the subsurface. Tidal ranges in Cape Cod Bay and in the tidal channels were on the order of 9 and 1.5 feet, respectively, whereas tidal ranges in the ground-water levels were less than 0.2 foot. Tidal pulses measured in the water table beneath a barrier beach between the marsh and Cape Cod Bay were more in phase with tidal pulses from Cape Cod Bay than with tidal pulses from the tidal channels in Sagamore Marsh, whereas tidal pulses in the regional aquifer were more in phase with tidal pulses from the tidal channels. 

A 5-day aquifer test at a public-supply well adjacent to the marsh gave a transmissivity of the regional aquifer of 9,300 to 10,900 feet squared per day and a hydraulic conductivity of 181 to 213 feet per day, assuming a saturated thickness of the aquifer of 51.3 feet. The regional aquifer became unconfined near the pumped well during the test. The ratio of tidal ranges in the tidal channel to the ranges in the underlying aquifer at two sites (the lower and upper marsh) indicated aquifer diffusivities for the marsh sediments of 380 and 170 feet squared per day; these values correspond to hydraulic conductivities of 2.5 x 10-3 and 1.7 x 10-3 feet per day, respectively. The maximum distances from the tidal channel at the lower and upper marsh sites where tidal ranges would exceed 0.01 foot, as calculated from aquifer diffusivities and current (1995) tidal ranges in the tidal channels, were 24.4 and 26.7 feet, respectively. The maximum distances from the tidal channel where tidal pulses in the ground water would exceed 0.01 foot, using potential increased tidal stages resulting from proposed tidal-stage modifications and predicted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, were 37.1 and 42.0 feet, respectively.

A numerical model of the marsh and surrounding aquifer system indicated that the contributing area for the supply well adjacent to the marsh, for current (1994) pumping conditions, extends toward Great Herring Pond, about 2 miles northwest (upgradient) of the well, and does not extend beneath the marsh. The model also indicates that the predicted increases in tidal stages in the marsh will have a negligible effect on local ground-water levels.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1996
Title Hydrogeology and analysis of ground-water-flow system, Sagamore Marsh area, southeastern Massachusetts
DOI 10.3133/wri964200
Authors Donald A. Walter, John P. Masterson, Paul M. Barlow
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 96-4200
Index ID wri964200
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New England Water Science Center