EARTH 530
The Critical Zone

Groundwater Studies

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Activity

USGS has placed much of its groundwater database online. In this exercise, you will learn to access this data to gather information relevant to your soil and surface water study site.

Directions

NOTE:

For this assignment, you will need to record your work on a word processing document. Your work must be submitted in Word (.doc) or PDF (.pdf) format so I can open it. In addition, documents must be double-spaced and typed in 12 point Times Roman font.

  1. Go to the USGS Ground-Water Data for the Nation Web site.
  2. Click on the "Current Conditions" link.
  3. Scroll down through the list of wells that are organized by state. For Pennsylvania, the real-time monitoring wells are named according to the county in which they are found, so if PA is your state, you're in luck. Not all states are organized in this manner.
  4. Locate and identify the real-time groundwater well closest to your soil and surface water study site. What real-time data is available for the site closest to your study site?
  5. In a report no longer than two double-spaced pages, answer the following questions (include a plot of water level versus time):
    • Are any trends available (short- or long-term)?
    • If so, to what do you ascribe the trends?
    • Do any unusual events or anomalies exist in the data?
    • If so, to what do you attribute the anomalies?
    • Is this information relevant to your soil and surface water study site?
    • If so, how? If not, why not?
  6. Next return to the USGS Groundwater Data for the Nation main page and click on the "Daily Data" link to move into site selection mode.
  7. A form will appear:
    • Check the box for the "Lat-Long box" unless you already know the name of the nearest USGS groundwater well at which daily data is collected and placed online.
    • Leave the "Site type" box checked.
    • Submit the form.
  8. A new form will appear:
    • For "Site type," choose "Ground Water" or "Wells".
    • For "Lat-Long box," provide a range of latitudes and longitudes. Be sure to provide coordinates that will "box" or contain your soil and surface water study site and use an "expanding box" strategy. In other words, if you make the lat-long box too small (good idea to begin with) there may be no USGS station located within the box. So, expand the coordinates outward from the site until you locate the closest USGS station with daily data.
    • Leave the available parameters blank so that your search results include all available data for the USGS station.
    • Submit the form.
  9. In a report no longer than two double-spaced pages, answer the same questions as above (and again, include a plot of water level versus time). Notice the Statistics hot button for daily, monthly, and annual statistics that may be useful for interpreting the data.
    • Are any trends available (short- or long-term)?
    • If so, to what do you ascribe the trends?
    • Do any unusual events or anomalies exist in the data?
    • If so, to what do you attribute the anomalies?
    • Is this information relevant to your soil and surface water study site?
    • If so, how? If not, why not?
  10. Finally, return to the main page once again and click on the "Field Measurements" link. While the data here is more limited, there are many more sites to choose from, so this may provide you with your best opportunity to collect information relevant and closest to your study site.
  11. Apply the same strategy as you did in steps 7 and 8, above, to collect the relevant information.
  12. In a report no longer than two double-spaced pages, answer the same questions as above (and again, include a plot of water level versus time).
    • Are any trends available (short- or long-term)?
    • If so, to what do you ascribe the trends?
    • Do any unusual events or anomalies exist in the data?
    • If so, to what do you attribute the anomalies?
    • Is this information relevant to your soil and surface water study site?
    • If so, how? If not, why not?
  13. Finish your report (which is now about six pages in length) with a paragraph describing which of the data you collected is most relevant to your site and why.
  14. Save your report as either a Microsoft Word or PDF file in the following format:

    L7_groundwater_AccessAccountID_LastName.doc (or .pdf).

    For example, student Elvis Aaron Presley's file would be named "L7_groundwater_eap1_presley.doc"—this naming convention is important, as it will help me make sure I match each submission up with the right student!

Submitting your work

Upload your report to the "Lesson 7 - Groundwater Activity" dropbox in Canvas (see the Modules tab) by the due date indicated on our Canvas calendar.

Grading Criteria

You will be graded on the quality of your writing. You should not simply write responses to the questions and submit them to me. Instead plan on writing a short stand-alone paragraph (or page or whatever you decide is necessary considering any constraints I might have placed on you) so that anyone can read what you've written and understood it. You should strive to be specific and complete in responding to the questions. Your answers should be analytic, thoughtful and insightful, and should provide an insightful connection between ideas. The writing should be tight and crisp with varied sentence structure and a serious, professional tone.