Groundwater Zone CharacteristicsThis is a featured page

The ground itself is divided into different zones based on water content. The unsaturated zone, also known as thehttp://www.peifa.ca/farmsafety/pesticide/wtable.gif vadose zone, consists of downward-flowing water, water that adheres to soil (soil moisture) and rock by capillary action and hydrogen bonding, and air spaces. The saturated zone is the zone in which the name “groundwater” is applied, referring to the complete saturation of pore spaces and fractures in the rock by water in a zone known as the water table. Arguably, any water that is in the ground can be called groundwater, but for our purposes we will refer to any water at and below the water table as groundwater. Water that adheres by capillary action is located just above the water table in a zone called the capillary fringe. At approximately 3000-4000 ft. below ground, there is rarely any water. Even further, at 12000-13000 ft., there is no groundwater. All groundwater is confined primarily to the upper mile of the crust.

The body of rock that contains exploitable resources of groundwater is known as an aquifer. An aquifer may be unconfined and open to downward water flow or it may be confined by a body of nonporous rock or clay known as a confining layer or an aquiclude.

Common aquifers may consist of sandstone or limestone. Limestone bedrock is prone to developing underground cave systems, lakes, and rivers as a result of weathering by water action. In some cases an underground cave may collapse, leading to devastating sinkholes on the surface. All of these features are a result of the simple action of water flow. This seeming simplicity, however, often results in chaotic behavior.
http://servercc.oakton.edu/~billtong/eas100/perchedwatertable.jpg


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