USGS

Recharge Rates and Aquifer Hydraulic Characteristics for Selected Drainage Basins in Middle and East Tennessee

U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Resources Investigations Report 90-4015

by Anne B. Hoos

This report is available as a pdf below


Abstract

Quantitative information concerning aquifer hydrologic and hydraulic characteristics is needed to manage the development of ground-water resources. These characteristics are poorly defined for the bedrock aquifers in Middle and East Tennessee where demand for water is increasing. This report presents estimates of recharge rate, storage coefficient, diffusivity, and transmissivity for representative drainage basins in Middle and East Tennessee, as determined from analyses of stream-aquifer interactions. The drainage basins have been grouped according to the underlying major aquifer, then statistical descriptions applied to each group, in order to define area1 distribution of these characteristics.

Aquifer recharge rates are estimated for representative low, average, and high flow years for 63 drainage basins using hydrograph analysis techniques. Net annual recharge during average flow years for all basins ranges from 4.1 to 16.8 in/yr (inches per year), with a mean value of 7.3 in. In general, recharge rates are highest for basins underlain by the Blue Ridge aquifer (mean value11.7 in/yr) and lowest for basins underlain by the Central Basin aquifer (mean value 5.6 in/yr). Mean recharge values for the Cumberland Plateau, Highland Rim, and Valley and Ridge aquifers are 6.5, 7.4, and 6.6 in/yr, respectively.

Gravity drainage characterizes ground-water flow in most surficial bedrock aquifer in Tennessee. Accordingly, a gravity yield analysis, which compares concurrent water-level and streamflow hydrographs, was used to estimate aquifer storage coefficient for nine study basins. The basin estimates range from 0.002 to 0.140; however, most estimates are within a narrow range of values, from 0.01 to 0.025. Accordingly, storage coefficient is estimated to be 0.01 for all aquifers in Middle and East Tennessee, with the exception of the aquifer in the inner part of the Central Basin, for which storage coefficient is estimated to be 0.002.

Estimates of aquifer hydraulic diffusivity are derived from estimates of the streamflow recession index and drainage density for 75 drainage basins; values range from 3,300 to 130,000 ft^2/d (feet squared per day). Basin-specific and site-specific estimates of transmissivity are computed from estimates of hydraulic diffusivity and specific-capacity test data, respectively. Basin-specific, or areal, estimates of transmissivity range from 22 to 1,300 ft^2/d, with a mean of 240 ft^2/d In general, areal transmissivity is highest for basins underlain by the Cumberland Plateau aquifer (mean value 480 ft^2/d) and lowest for basins underlain by the Central Basin aquifer (mean value 79 ft^2/d). Mean transmissivity values for the Highland Rim, Valley and Ridge, and Blue Ridge aquifer are 320,140, and 120 ft^2/d respectively. Site-specific estimates of transmissivity, computed from specific-capacity data from 118 test wells in Middle and East Tennessee range from 2 to 93,000 ft^2/d with a mean of 2,600 ft^2/d Mean transmissivity values for the Cumberland Plateau, Highland Rim, Central Basin, Valley and Ridge, and Blue Ridge aquifers are 2,800,1,200, 7,800, 390, and 65Oft Id, respectively.

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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