Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Hydrogeology and Extent of Saltwater Intrusion in the Northern Part of the Town of Oyster Bay, Nassau County, New York: 1995–98

January 1, 2005

The Oyster Bay study area, in the northern part of Nassau County, N.Y., is underlain by unconsolidated deposits that form a sequence of aquifers and confining units. At least one production well has been affected by the intrusion of saltwater from Hempstead Harbor, Long Island Sound, and Cold Spring Harbor. Nineteen boreholes were drilled during 1995-98 for the collection of hydrogeologic, geochemical, and geophysical data to delineate the subsurface geology and the extent of saltwater intrusion. Continuous high-resolution marine-seismic-reflection surveys in the surrounding embayments of the Oyster Bay study area were conducted in 1996.

New drill-core data indicate two hydrogeologic units—the North Shore aquifer and the North Shore confining unit—where the Lloyd aquifer, the Raritan confining unit, and the Magothy aquifer have been completely removed by glacial erosion.

Water levels at 95 observation wells were measured quarterly during 1995–98. These data and continuous water-level records indicated that (1) the upper glacial (water-table) and Magothy aquifers are hydraulically connected and that their water levels did not respond to tidal fluctuations, and (2) the Lloyd and North Shore aquifers are hydraulically connected and their water levels responded to pumping and to tidal fluctuations.

Marine seismic-reflection surveys in the surrounding embayments indicate at least four glacially eroded buried valleys with subhorizontal, parallel reflectors indicative of draped bedding that is interpreted as infilling by silt and clay. The buried valleys (1) truncate the surrounding coarse-grained deposits, (2) are asymmetrical and steep sided, (3) trend northwest-southeast, (4) are several miles long and about 1 mile wide, and (5) extend to more than 500 feet below sea level.

Water samples taken during 1995–98 from three production wells and six observation wells screened in the upper glacial and Magothy aquifers contained volatile organic compounds in concentrations that exceeded the New York State Department of Health Drinking Water Maximum Contaminant Levels. High iron or nitrate concentrations were detected in water samples taken in 1997–98 from 39 observation wells. Previous high concentrations resulted in the shutdown of two production wells.

Four distinct areas of saltwater intrusion in the Oyster Bay study area were delineated—three were in the upper glacial aquifer, and the fourth was in the Lloyd aquifer. Borehole-geophysical-logging data indicated that three of these saltwater "wedges" ranged from a few feet thick to more than 100 feet thick and had sharp freshwater-saltwater interfaces. Chloride concentrations in water from eight observation wells within these wedges in 1997 ranged from 125 to 13,750 milligrams per liter. One production well in Bayville has been shut down as of 1996 and others in the area may be affected by these saltwater wedges.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2004
Title Hydrogeology and Extent of Saltwater Intrusion in the Northern Part of the Town of Oyster Bay, Nassau County, New York: 1995–98
DOI 10.3133/wri034288
Authors Frederick Stumm, Andrew D. Lange, Jennifer L. Candela
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 2003-4288
Index ID wri034288
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center

Related Content