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Summary of the Hydrogeology of the Valley and Ridge, Blue Ridge, and Piedmont Physiographic Provinces in the Eastern United States

U.S. Geological Survey
Professional Paper 1422-A
by Lindsay A. Swain, Thomas O. Mesko, and Este F. Hollyday

This report is available as a pdf.


The Appalachian Valley and Piedmont Regional Aquifer-System Analysis study (1988-1993) analyzed rock types in the 142,000-square-mile study area, identified hydrogeologic terranes, determined transmissivity distributions, determined the contribution of ground water to streamflow, modeled ground-water flow, described water quality, and identified areas suitable for the potential development of municipal and industrial ground-water supplies. Ground-water use in the Valley and Ridge, the Blue Ridge, and the Piedmont Physiographic Provinces exceeds 1.7 billion gallons per day.

Thirty-three rock types in the study area were analyzed, and the rock types with similar water-yielding characteristics were combined and mapped as 10 hydrogeologic terranes. Based on well records, the interquartile ranges of estimated transmissivities are between 180 to 17,000 feet squared per day (ft2/d) for five hydrologic terranes in the Valley and Ridge; between 9 to 350 ft2/d for two terranes in the Blue Ridge; and between 9 to 1,400 ft2/d for three terranes in the Piedmont Physiographic Province. Based on streamflow records, the interquartile ranges of estimated transmissivities for all three physiographic provinces are between 290 and 2,900 ft2/d. The mean ground-water contribution to streams from 157 drainage basins ranges from 32 to 94 percent of mean streamflow with a median of 67 percent. In three small areas in two of the physiographic provinces, more than 54 percent of ground-water flow was modeled as shallow and local. Although ground-water chemical composition in the three physiographic provinces is distinctly different, the water generally is not highly mineralized, with a median dissolved-solids concentration of 164 milligrams per liter, and is mostly calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate. Based on aquifer properties and current pumpage, areas favorable for the development of municipal and industrial ground-water supplies are underlain by alluvium of glacial origin near the northeastern part of the study area, by clay-free carbonate rocks primarily in the Valley and Ridge Physiographic Province, and by siliciclastic rocks in the three northernmost Mesozoic basins.


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