RI79 Simulation of Groundwater Flow and Contaminant Transport in Eastern Sussex County, Delaware With Emphasis on Impacts of Spray Irrigation of Treated Wastewater
This report presents a conceptual model of groundwater flow and the effects of nitrate (NO3-) loading and transport on shallow groundwater quality in a portion of the Indian River watershed, eastern Sussex County, Delaware. Three-dimensional, numerical simulations of groundwater flow, particle tracking, and contaminant transport were constructed and tested against data collected in previous hydrogeological and water-quality studies.
The simulations show a bimodal distribution of groundwater residence time in the study area, with the largest grouping at less than 10 years, the second largest grouping at more than 100 years, and a median of approximately 29 years.
Historically, the principal source of nitrate to the shallow groundwater in the study area has been from the chemical- and manure-based fertilizers used in agriculture. A total mass of NO3- -nitrogen (N) of about 169 kg/day is currently simulated to discharge to surface water. As the result of improved N-management practices, after 45 years a 20 percent decrease in the mass of NO3- -N reaching the water table would result in an approximately 4 percent decrease in the mass of simulated N discharge to streams. The disproportionally smaller decrease in N discharge reflects the large mass of N in the aquifer coupled with long groundwater residence times.
Currently, there are two large wastewater spray irrigation facilities located in the study domain: the Mountaire Wastewater Treatment Facility and Inland Bays Wastewater Facility. The effects of wastewater application through spray irrigation were simulated with a two-step process. First, under different operations and soil conditions, evaporation and water flux, NO3- -N uptake by plants, and NO3- -N leaching were simulated using an unsaturated flow model, Hydrus-1D. Next, the range of simulated NO3- -N loads were input into the flow and transport model to study the impacts on groundwater elevation and NO3- -N conditions.
Over the long term, the spray irrigation of wastewater may increase water-table elevations up to 2.5m and impact large volumes of groundwater with NO3-. Reducing the concentration of NO3- in effluent and increasing the irrigation rate may reduce the volumes of water impacted by high concentrations of NO3-, but may facilitate the lateral and vertical migration of NO3-. Simulations indicate that NO3- will eventually impact deeper aquifers. An optimal practice of wastewater irrigation can be achieved by adjusting irrigation rate and effluent concentration. Further work is needed to determine these optimum application rates and concentrations.
This vector data set contains the rock unit polygons for the surficial geology in the Delaware Coastal Plain covered by DGS Geologic Map Series No. 22 (Sharptown, Laurel, Hebron, and Delmar Quadrangles, Delaware). The geological history of the surficial geologic units in western Sussex County is that of deposition of the Beaverdam Formation and its subsequent modification by erosion and deposition related to the sea-level fluctuations during the Pleistocene. The geology reflects this complex history by the cut and fill geometry of the middle and late Pleistocene deposits into the Beaverdam Formation. The geology is further complicated by periglacial activity that produced dune deposits and Carolina Bays in the map area, which modified the land surface.
The geological history of the surficial geologic units in western Sussex County is that of deposition of the Beaverdam Formation and its subsequent modification by erosion and deposition related to the sea-level fluctuations during the Pleistocene. The geology reflects this complex history by the cut and fill geometry of the middle and late Pleistocene deposits into the Beaverdam Formation. The geology is further complicated by periglacial activity that produced dune deposits and Carolina Bays in the map area, which modified the land surface. Mapping was conducted using field maps at a scale of 1:12,000 with 2-ft contours. Stratigraphic boundaries drawn at topographic breaks reflect detailed mapping using contours not shown on this map.
Yellowish-brown to light-gray, medium to fine sand with thin beds and laminae of medium to coarse sand and scattered pebbles (B) that grades downward into bioturbated, gray, very fine sand to silt (A). Rare beds of light-gray to red silty clay are found near the contact with the overlying Beaverdam Formation. Laminae of opaque heavy minerals are present in the upper sands. Laminae of very fine organic particles are found in the lower sand as well as laminae to thin beds of coarse sand to gravel. The burrows in the lower sand are clay lined, and in some intervals, the sediment is completely bioturbated to the extent that no sedimentary structures are preserved. Sand is primarily quartz with less than 5% feldspar and a trace to less than 1% mica (in the very fine sand to silt). Glauconite is present only in trace amounts. Fragments of lignite are common to rare in the organic laminae. Interpreted to be a late Miocene, very shallow marine to marginal marine (shoreface) deposit (McLaughlin et al., 2008). About 100 to 120 ft thick in the Georgetown Quadrangle.
This vector data set contains the rock unit polygons for the surficial geology in the Delaware Coastal Plain covered by DGS Geologic Map No. 15 (Geologic Map of the Georgetown Quadrangle, Delaware). The geologic history of the surficial geologic units of the Georgetown Quadrangle is primarily that of deposition of the Beaverdam Formation and its subsequent modification by erosion and deposition of younger stratigraphic units. The age of the Beaverdam Formation is uncertain due to the lack of age-definitive fossils within the unit but is thought to be between late Pliocene to early Pleistocene in age. Refer to Ramsey, 2010 (DGS Report of Investigations No. 76) for details regarding the stratigraphic units.
To facilitate the GIS community of Delaware and to release the geologic map of the Georgetown Quadrangle with all cartographic elements (including geologic symbology, text, etc.) in a form usable in a GIS, we have released this digital coverage of DGS Geological Map 15. The update of earlier work and mapping of new units is important not only to geologists, but also to hydrologists who wish to understand the distribution of water resources, to engineers who need bedrock information during construction of roads and buildings, to government officials and agencies who are planning for residential and commercial growth, and to citizens who are curious about the bedrock under their homes. Formal names are assigned to all rock units according to the guidelines of the 1983 North American Stratigraphic Code (NACSN, 1983).
The geologic history of the surficial geologic units of the Georgetown Quadrangle is primarily that of deposition of the Beaverdam Formation and its subsequent modification by erosion and deposition of younger stratigraphic units. The age of the Beaverdam Formation is uncertain due to the lack of age-definitive fossils within the unit. Stratigraphic relationships in Delaware indicate that it is no older than late Miocene and no younger than early Pleistocene. Regional correlations based on similarities of depositional style, stratigraphic position, and sediment textures suggest that it is likely late Pliocene in age; correlative with the Bacons Castle Formation of Virginia (Ramsey, 1992, 2010).
RI75 Stratigraphy and Correlation of the Oligocene to Pleistocene Section at Bethany Beach, Delaware
The Bethany Beach borehole (Qj32-27) provides a nearly continuous record of the Oligocene to Pleistocene formations of eastern Sussex County, Delaware. This 1470-ft-deep, continuously cored hole penetrated Oligocene, Miocene, and Pleistocene stratigraphic units that contain important water-bearing intervals. The resulting detailed data on lithology, ages, and environments make this site an important reference section for the subsurface geology of the region.
Because of the rapid development occurring in coastal Delaware and the importance of ground water to the economy of the area, definition of formal lithostratigraphic units hosting aquifers and confining beds serves a useful purpose for resource managers, researchers, and consultants working in the area. The Pocomoke and Manokin are artesian aquifers pumped by hundreds of domestic and dozens of public wells along the Atlantic coast in Delaware and Maryland. These aquifers are being increasingly used for public water supply. Two formal lithostratigraphic units, the Cat Hill Formation and Bethany Formation, are established to supercede the Manokin formation and Bethany formation, respectively. In Delaware, these lithostratigraphic units host important aquifers—the Manokin, which occurs in the Cat Hill Formation, and the Pocomoke, which occurs in the Bethany Formation. Composite stratotypes of these units are identified in five drillholes located near Bethany Beach, Delaware.