A model for the assessment of aquifer contamination potential based on regional geologic framework
The texture and three-dimensional framework of geologic materials should be considered in assessments of groundwater's vulnerability to contamination because geology controls the movement of contaminants and groundwater and influences groundwater quality. Contaminants are introduced into, transmitted through, and stored by geologic materials. We present a model that identifies aquifers and ranks sequences of geologic materials by their relative potential for transmitting water and contaminants from land surface. With this basis, the model can be used to assess the potential for contamination of aquifers by surface activities such as landfitling of wastes or application of agricultural chemicals. A regional map of aquifer contamination potential can be generated from the model; it retains the geologic map information intact and available for reinterpretation or other uses.
The model was developed using broad, regional map information and is intended to be a general tool for assessing the regional vulnerability of aquifers to contamination. It is not intended for local, site-specific use, but for prioritizing local areas where contamination potential and/or land-use history warrant more detailed assessment or monitoring. Because it provides a regional view of contamination potential, regional patterns or trends of map units should be evaluated, rather than using the map information literally to assess local areas. Methods of applying this model and contamination potential map to groundwater protection and management are currently being studied; research includes an attempt to statistically validate the model with water-quality data, and to identify natural groupings of the ranked contamination potential map units.
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