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Submitted by :

Qasim Habib
2005-poly-33

Groundwater investigation methods:


Two groups of methods can be regarded as main approaches to groundwater
investigation:
Surface investigations
Subsurface investigations.
A groundwater investigation always starts in collecting and analyzing all sources of
information i.e. the quantity and the quality needed in each case. The primary sources are
meteorological, hydrological and geological data. Topographical, geological and hydro
geological.
From the topographical maps it is possible to determine the surface water divide, which
often but not always coincides with the groundwater divide.. Small-scale topography in
combination with the geology of the area gives an indication of the infiltration for
recharging the groundwater.
In some cases aerial and/or satellite photographs can be used for the analyses. Hydrometeorological maps are usually obtainable from the meteorological offices. One type of
information that should be given high priority is data on the physical and chemical
properties of the water, since these will reveal properties that make it possible to
distinguish between surface water and groundwater.
Furthermore, hydro chemical data can be used, e.g. estimates of groundwater formation
and models of groundwater flow.
1 : Surface investigations:
A: Surface topography
Even when geological and topographical maps are available, it may be necessary to
undertake complementary mapping, especially if the scale of the maps is so large that it
makes it difficult to gather all the needed geological information or to use the maps as
the basis for planning further activities.
The available groundwater in thin earth layers may not be sufficient even for single
households and water may need to be supplied from the bedrock. The original porosity
of this type of bedrock is very low, often less than 3%, and most of the water emanates
from the secondary porosity created by tectonic activity that has 81 formed fracture
zones. Even chemical weathering and frost activities can contribute to this porosity. A
survey in such a region performed by a bedrock geologist, who analyses the tectonic
pattern, can point out fractured zones and the open bigger cracks, which are able to yield
sufficient groundwater.

B: Geophysical measurements:
For direct surface investigations there are a number of geophysical methods that can be
applied depending on the prevailing geology, the size of the investigation area and the
demand on groundwater quantity. Geophysical explorations are scientific measurements
of physical properties of the earths crust and detect differences, or anomalies, in these.
The results can then be interpreted in terms of geologic structure, rock type and porosity,
water content and water quality.
Originally most of these methods were developed for locating petroleum and mineral
deposits, which then led to further development and refinement of both methods and
equipment. Over large areas and under certain geological conditions airborne geophysical
measurements may be used.
RAMA measurements (RAdioMAgnetic) use radio signals from a VLF-transmitter (very
low frequency, 15-20 kHz). These radio waves penetrate very deeply into the ground and
if they hit conductive bodies, secondary waves are emitted by induction. These inducted
waves are recorded as anomalies and are presented on a so-called RAMA-map. The
anomalies can be power lines, railroads, ore bodies or steeply dipping groundwaterbearing major fracture zones. These latter can supply substantial amounts of water.
C: The electrical method:
Among the most commonly used surface geophysical investigation methods is the
electrical method. It can be carried out by measuring either conductivity or resistivity,
with or without an external electricity source. Measurement of the earth resistivity
in the ground between two electrodes in an artificially created electrical field is
the method most commonly used. The two potential electrodes are placed between
two current electrodes on a straight line. By changing the spacing between the electrodes
a new electrical field will be formed. Increasing the distance
will yield a deeper penetration into the ground. The results are affected by, e.g. porosity,
water content and water quality, especially salt content. This means that both VLF
resistivity and earth resistivity measurements, in addition to groundwater investigation in
general, are good tools for detecting saline water or seawater intrusion and for mapping
out the interface between fresh and saline water. Another application of this method is
to locate seepage loss areas along canals.
D: Seismic methods:
Seismic methods, as with many other geophysical investigations, were developed and
refined for use in prospecting after oil or ore bodies. There are two seismic methods,
refraction and reflection, both based on the same physical principle. Sometimes refraction
seismic can be seen referred to as shallow seismic. Seismic waves follow the same
laws of propagation as light rays and may be reflected or refracted at any interface where
a velocity change occurs.
By creating a small shock on the earths surface, either by a heavy mechanical impact or
by a controlled explosion, the resulting shock wave can be recorded when it reaches the
instruments. With knowledge of distance and time, it is then possible to estimate

the velocity in the ground. Wave velocity (which determines the travel time)depends
mainly on porosity, especially the elastic properties, of the geological formation. Solid
igneous rock can have seismic velocities varying from 5 000 to 7 000 metres/second
while unconsolidated material (dry sand and gravel) has a seismic velocity of
approximately 300-1 000 metres/second.
Interpretation of seismic refraction data can supply information on:
depth of the groundwater level,
depth of different layers,
type of formation (clay, gravel, moraine etc.),
depth of the bedrock,
changes between rock types,
weathering on the top of the bedrock,
the thickness of top of the bedrock zone,.
E: Gravity and magnetism:
Two geophysical methods of minor interest for groundwater investigation are gravity and
magnetic methods. Gravity measurement can be used to detect thick alluvial deposits
bordering a mountain area or intrusive bodies bordering an aquifer. Magnetic measurement
can reveal indirect information, such as dikes that form aquifer boundaries or limits of a
basaltic flow.
2: Subsurface investigations :
After using the general sources and a suitable surface investigation method it should be possible to
choose the best location for subsurface investigations. These are comparatively expensive, but
impossible to avoid if data on quality and quantity of
the groundwater are desired.
One or more small diameter holes are drilled at the chosen location to supply information on the
groundwater level and the geological substrata. There are several drilling methods that can be used
and the choice is determined by the geological conditions.
The results of the drilling and sampling of material make it possible to establish a geological log
with information from the different strata for both unconsolidated (loose) and consolidated
(bedrock) material. The log can contain e.g. grain size distribution
of the loose material, which provides information on the porosity or the frequency and distribution
of fissures and cracks in the bedrock. Besides sampling of material, it is also possible to take
groundwater samples at specific depths for chemical analysis, which gives a first indication of the
groundwater quality in the area.
The drilled test holes make it possible to observe the groundwater level and thus map the gradient
and the flow direction. This may in some cases also be traced with dyestuff, e.g. in lime stone
areas. The flow velocity can also be determined by other means, such as radioactive markers or
dilution methods.
Ground Water Quality Basics:
Along with human activities, water quality is affected by a combination of natural processes. Most
relate to chemical compositions underground. However, other factors such as biological, physical,
and radiological conditions can affect water quality as well

.Hard Water
The most common problem associated with ground water may be hardness, generally associated
with an abundance of calcium and/or magnesium dissolved in the water. Hard water has not been
shown to cause health problems, but can be a nuisance as it may cause soap curds and deposits to
form on pipes and other plumbing fixtures. Over time this can reduce the diameter of the pipes.
Iron and Manganese:
A "rusty" or metallic taste in water is a result of iron, and sometimes manganese, in ground water.
They not only create a bad taste, but they also can stain pipes and clothing.Iron and manganese are
naturally occurring, and most ground water has some amount of dissolved iron and manganese in
it. It comes from contact with minerals that contain iron, such as pyrite.
There are several treatment methods. Installing a water softener may help if iron and manganese
are present in low quantities and the softener is designed for their removal. Aeration (the addition
of oxygen to the water), chlorination, and feeding ozone or hydrogen peroxide can aid in the
precipitation of iron, which it is removed from the water by filtration. Potassium permanganate
feed with manganese greensand filters, and some recently designed synthetic media, will remove
iron and manganese, as well.
Nitrogen:
Most nitrogen in ground water comes from the atmosphere. Some plants can "attach" nitrogen
from the atmosphere onto their roots. The nitrogen not used by the plants is then released into the
soil. Nitrogen compounds also can work their way into ground water through fertilizers, manure,
and urine from farm animals, sewage, and landfills.
Silica:
Silica comes from the weathering of silicate minerals in the ground. It causes no harmful effects to
humans, but large amounts can cause scaling in pipes that impacts water flow, and it can interfere
with iron and manganese removal.
Sulfur:
Sulfur can occur in ground water in two forms: sulfides and sulfates. Sulfides are naturally
occurring in much of the United States in limestone containing organic materials; ground water
affected by oil, gas, and coal deposits; in marshes and manure pits; and in the byproduct of wellestablished iron biofilms. Sulfates often come from the dissolving of minerals, such as gypsum
and anhydrite.
Total Dissolved Solids:
TDS, as it is commonly known, is the concentration of all dissolved minerals in water. It is the
direct measurement of the interaction between minerals and ground water.TDS levels above 1000
mg/L will usually yield poor tasting water. Levels above 2000 mg/L are considered undrinkable
due to taste, and levels more than 10,000 mg/L are defined as undrinkable.Water softeners with a
reverse osmosis system are effective in lowering the TDS to satisfactory levels.
The presence of coliform bacteria is a possible indicator of a wells susceptibility to
contamination from animal wastes. E. coli is bacteria that originates from wastes such as those
found in sewage, and it can result in severe illness. Its presence suggests a contamination source
such as a poor performing home septic system in the vicinity of the well that should be repaired or
removed by a qualified septic system contractor.In the vast majority of cases, nitrates come from
farm or industrial contamination, or septic systems, and they can be dangerous to your health.
Nitrates from fertilizers and septic wastes could be an indication of a local source of
contamination or regionally contaminated ground water.

Arsenic and radon are two examples of water quality concerns that can be present on either a
local or regional basis. Both can be naturally occurring in an aquifer. Arsenic is a semi metallic
element that occurs in rocks and soilsand water that comes into contact with these rocks and
soils. Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that comes from the natural radioactive
breakdown of uranium in the ground. Exposure to radon can come from two sources: the air in
your home, which seeps up through the foundation, and your well water.

The monitoring activity plays an important role in groundwater protection. National, state, or
regional monitoring programs should be established and operated, particularly in recharge,
contribution, and vulnerable areas of aquifers of national importance; intensively exploited
aquifers; areas with close interaction between ground- and surface water; and in hydrogeological
systems under multiple human influences where valuable groundwater resources occur.
Decision-making in groundwater protection should be based on the results yielded by
hydrogeological investigations and groundwater-quality monitoring. The task of hydrogeologists
and water scientists is to enhance the accuracy of such decisions by providing the data and
information for the protection of groundwater quality, for determination of antipollution
measures, and for the rehabilitation and reclamation of polluted aquifers, thus contributing to the
balancing of interests between socioeconomic development on the one hand and society's
environmental efforts on the other.