U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009-1151
Continuous Resistivity Profiling and Seismic-Reflection Data Collected in 2006 from the Potomac River Estuary, Virginia and Maryland
By V.A. Cross, D.S. Foster, and J.F. Bratton
In 2006 the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a geophysical survey on the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River Estuary in order to test hypotheses about groundwater flow under and into Chesapeake Bay. Resource managers are concerned about nutrients that are entering the estuary via submarine groundwater discharge and are contributing to eutrophication. The research carried out as part of this study was designed to help refine nutrient budgets for Chesapeake Bay by characterizing submarine groundwater flow and groundwater discharge beneath part of the bay’s mainstem and a major tributary, the Potomac River Estuary. The data collected indicate that plumes of reduced-salinity groundwater are commonly present along the shorelines of Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River Estuary. Data also show that buried paleochannels generally do not serve as conduits for flow of groundwater from land to underneath the bay and estuary but rather may focus discharge of reduced-salinity water along their flanks, and provide routes for migration of saltwater into the sediments.