Hydrogeology

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Hydrogeology

Hydrogeology is the area of geology that deals with the distribution and movement of groundwater in the soil and rocks of the Earth's crust (commonly in aquifers). The terms groundwater hydrology, geohydrology, and hydrogeology are often used interchangeably. Hydrogeology is a branch of the earth sciences dealing with the flow of water through aquifers and other shallow porous media (typically less than 450 m or 1,500 ft below the land surface). The very shallow flow of water in the subsurface (the upper 3 m or 10 ft) is pertinent to the fields of soil science, agriculture and civil engineering, as well as to hydrogeology. The general flow of fluids (water, hydrocarbons, geothermal fluids, etc.) in deeper formations is also a concern of geologists, geophysicists and petroleum geologists. Groundwater is a slow-moving, viscous fluid (with a Reynolds number less than unity); many of the empirically derived laws of groundwater flow can be alternately derived in fluid mechanics from the special case of Stokes flow (viscosity and pressure terms, but no inertial term). The mathematical relationships used to describe the flow of water through porous media are the diffusion and Laplace equations, which have applications in many diverse fields. Steady groundwater flow (Laplace equation) has been simulated using electrical, elastic and heat conduction analogies. Transient groundwater flow is analogous to the diffusion of heat in a solid, therefore some solutions to hydrological problems have been adapted from heat transfer literature. Traditionally, the movement of groundwater has been studied separately from surface water, climatology, and even the chemical and microbiological aspects of hydrogeology (the processes are uncoupled). As the field of hydrogeology matures, the strong interactions between groundwater, surface water, water chemistry, soil moisture and even climate are becoming more clear. California and Washington both require special certification of hydrogeologists to offer professional services to the public. Twenty-nine states require professional licensing for geologists to offer their services to the public, which often includes work within the domains of developing, managing, and/or remediating groundwater resources.[1] For example: aquifer drawdown or overdrafting and the pumping of fossil water may be a contributing factor to sea-level rise.[2]

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