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Hydrogeology and simulation of groundwater flow in fractured-rock aquifers of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Physiographic Provinces, Bedford County, Virginia

September 11, 2015

An annual groundwater budget was computed as part of a hydrogeologic characterization and monitoring effort of fractured-rock aquifers in Bedford County, Virginia, a growing 764-square-mile (mi2) rural area between the cities of Roanoke and Lynchburg, Virginia. Data collection in Bedford County began in the 1930s when continuous stream gages were installed on Goose Creek and Big Otter River, the two major tributaries of the Roanoke River within the county. Between 2006 and 2014, an additional 2 stream gages, 3 groundwater monitoring wells, and 12 partial-record stream gages were operated. Hydrograph separation methods were used to compute base-flow recharge rates from the continuous data collected from the continuous stream gages. Mean annual base-flow recharge ranged from 8.3 inches per year (in/yr) for the period 1931–2012 at Goose Creek near Huddleston (drainage area 188 mi2) to 9.3 in/yr for the period 1938–2012 at Big Otter River near Evington (drainage area 315 mi2). Mean annual base-flow recharge was estimated to be 6.5 in/yr for the period 2007–2012 at Goose Creek at Route 747 near Bunker Hill (drainage area 125 mi2) and 8.9 in/yr for the period 2007–2012 at Big Otter River at Route 221 near Bedford (drainage area 114 mi2). Base-flow recharge computed from the partial-record data ranged from 5.0 in/yr in the headwaters of Goose Creek to 10.5 in/yr in the headwaters of Big Otter River.

A steady-state groundwater-flow simulation for Bedford County was developed to test the conceptual understanding of flow in the fractured-rock aquifers and to compute a groundwater budget for the four major drainages: James River, Smith Mountain and Leesville Lakes, Goose Creek, and Big Otter River. Model results indicate that groundwater levels mimic topography and that minimal differences in aquifer properties exist between the Proterozoic basement crystalline rocks and Late Proterozoic-Cambrian cover crystalline rocks. The Big Otter River receives 40.8 percent of the total daily groundwater outflow from fractured-rock aquifers in Bedford County; Goose Creek receives 25.8 percent, the James River receives 18.2 percent, and Smith Mountain and Leesville Lakes receive 15.2 percent. The remaining percentage of outflow is attributed to pumping from the aquifer (consumptive use).

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Hydrogeology and simulation of groundwater flow in fractured-rock aquifers of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Physiographic Provinces, Bedford County, Virginia
DOI 10.3133/sir20155113
Authors Kurt J. McCoy, Bradley A. White, Richard M. Yager, George E. Harlow
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2015-5113
Index ID sir20155113
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Virginia Water Science Center