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Earth Science 6.3 Water Beneath the Surface

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1 Earth Science 6.3 Water Beneath the Surface

2 Water Beneath the Surface
The ground beneath your feet includes countless spaces between grains of soil and sediments. This includes narrow joints and fractures in bedrock. Together these spaces add up to an immense volume of tiny spaces where water collects underground and moves.

3 Distribution and Movement of Water Underground
When rain falls, some of the water runs off, some evaporates, and the rest soaks into ground to become subsurface water. The amount of water that ends up underground in an area depends on the steepness of slopes, the nature of surface materials, the intensity of rainfall, and the type and amount of vegetation.

4 Distribution Much of the water in soil seeps downward until it reaches the zone of saturation. The zone of saturation is where water fills all the open spaces in sediment and rock. The water within this zone is called groundwater. The upper limit of this zone is called the watertable. The area above the water table where the soil, sediment, and rock are not saturated is the zone of aeration.

5 Movement The flow and storage of groundwater vary depending on the subsurface material. The amount of water that can be stored depends on porosity. Porosity is the percentage of the total volume of rock or sediment that consists of pore spaces.

6 Movement Rock or sediment may be porous but still block water’s movement. The permeability of a material is it’s ability to release a fluid. Groundwater moves by twisting and turning through interconnected small openings. The groundwater moves more slowly when the pore spaces are smaller. If the spaces between particles are too small, water cannot move at all.

7 Movement Impermeable layers that get in the way or prevent water movement are aquitards Large particles, such as sand, have larger pore spaces so water moves through more easily. Permeable rock layers or sediments that transmit groundwater freely are aquifers. Aquifers are important because they are the source of well water.

8 Springs A spring forms whenever the watertable intersects the ground surface. A spring is a flow of groundwater that emerges naturally at ground surface. Springs form when an aquitard blocks downward movement of groundwater and forces it to move laterally.

9 Hot Springs A hot spring is 6 to 9 degrees centigrade warmer than the “mean annual air temperature” where the spring occurs. There are more than 1000 hot springs in the U.S. When groundwater circulates at great depths, it becomes heated. If it rises to the surface, it may emerge as a hot spring. The source of heat for most of these hot springs is cooling igneous rock.

10 Geysers A geyser is an intermittent hot spring or fountain in which a column of water shoots up with great force at various intervals. Geysers often shoot up columns of water 30 to 60 meters. After the jet of water stops, a column of steam rushes out, usually with a thundering roar. Geysers occur where extensive underground chambers exist within hot igneous rocks

11 Geysers As relatively cool water enters the chamber, the surrounding rock heats it. The weight of the overlying water creates great pressure at the bottom of the chamber. This pressure prevents the water from boiling at the normal surface temperature of 100c.

12 Geysers However , the heat makes the water expand, and it forces some of the water out the surface. This loss of water reduces the pressure in the chamber and the boiling point drops. Some of the water deep within the chamber than turns to steam and makes the geyser erupt. Following the eruption, cool groundwater again seeps into the chamber, than the cycle begins again.

13 Wells A well is a hole bored into the zone of saturation.
Irrigation of agriculture is by far the single greatest use of well water, more than 65% of the groundwater used annually. Industrial uses of groundwater rank a distant second, followed by the amount used by homes.

14 Wells The level of the water table may change considerably during a year. To ensure a continuous water supply, a well must penetrate below the water table. Water rises on it’s own in some wells. In an artesian well, groundwater rises on it’s own under pressure.

15 Environmental Problems Associated with Groundwater
Overuse and contamination threatens groundwater supplies in some areas Groundwater seems like an endlessly renewable resource. However , supplies are finite. If the amount of water withdrawn form an aquifer is more than what goes back in, the groundwater reservoirs can become severely depleted. Intense irrigation in many parts of the Midwest have depleted groundwater reserves to the point where, even if pumping were to stop, it would take thousands of years for the groundwater to be fully replenished. The ground may even sink when water is pumped from wells faster than natural processes can replace it.

16 Groundwater Contamination
The pollution of groundwater is a serious matter, especially in areas where the aquifers supply much of the water supply. Common sources of groundwater contamination include Septic tanks Farm wastes Inadequate or broken sewers Other sources of contamination that pose a threat are. . . Fertilizers, pesticides, highway salt, chemicals and industrial materials which leak from storage tanks, landfills or holding ponds. In coastal areas, heavy use can deplete groundwater supplies and allow saltwater to enter wells. Prevention remains the most effective solution to groundwater contamination.

17 Caverns The most spectacular results of groundwater’s ability to erode rock are limestone caverns. Limestone is nearly insoluble in pure water. But water containing small quantities of carbonic acid dissolves it easily. Most natural water contains the weak acid because rainwater dissolves carbon dioxide from the air and decaying plants.

18 Caverns A cavern is a naturally formed underground chamber.
Erosion forms most caverns at or below the water table in the zone of saturation. Acidic groundwater follows lines of weakness in the rock, such as joints and bedding planes. As time passes, the dissolving process slowly creates cavities and enlarges them into caverns.

19 Caverns The features that produce the greatest curiosity in caverns are the depositional stone formations. They form from endless dripping over time. The calcium carbonate that is left behind produces a limestone we call travertine. These cave deposit are commonly called dripstone.

20 Dripstone Features The most famous of dripstone creations are stalactites. Stalactites are icicle-like stone pendants that hang from the ceiling of a cavern. As water drips from the ceiling of the cavern, each drop leaves a tiny trace of calcite behind. This calcite builds up over thousands of years to produce dramatic stalactites.

21 Dripstone Features Stalagmites are depositions that develop on the floor of the cavern and reach up toward the ceiling. The water supplying the calcite for the stalagmite growth falls from the cavern ceiling and splatters over the surface of the cavern floor.

22 Karst Topography Many areas of the world have landscapes that have been shaped by the dissolving power of groundwater. These areas are said to have Karst Topography Karst areas typically have irregular terrain, with many depressions called sinkholes. A sinkhole is a depression produced in a region where groundwater has removed soluble rock. They vary in depth to a meter or two to 50 meters or more.

23 Karst Topography Sinkholes generally form in one of two ways
Some develop gradually over many years. These depressions are fairly shallow and have gently sloping sides. Sinkholes also form suddenly when the roof of a cavern collapses. The depressions created this way are steep-sided and deep. In addition to surface sinkholes, Karst regions usually show a striking lack of surface drainage.

24 Key Concepts Much of the water in soil seeps downward until it reaches the zone of saturation. The zone of saturation is where water fills all of the open spaces in sediment and rock. Groundwater is the water within this zone. Groundwater moves by twisting and turning through interconnected small openings. The groundwater moves more slowly when the pore spaces are smaller. A spring forms whenever the water table intersects the ground surface. Overuse and contamination threatens groundwater supplies in some areas. Erosion forms most caverns at or below the water table in the zone of saturation. Karts areas typically have irregular terrain, with many depressions called sinkholes.

25 Computer lab: Write three paragraphs on the following question:
Groundwater contamination affects everyone in a community that relies on that groundwater for their life processes; drinking cooking bathing, etc. Building new houses and parking lots and roads covers up landscape that used to absorb water. With increased building, more flooding of local areas is occurring. Write three paragraphs on why we should set a maximum limit on the number of houses being built in an area so as not to increase the risks of flooding locally. Describe the link between covering up the landscape with new buildings and the rise in the water table that leads to flooding.

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