In view of the possible need for disposal of low-level radioactive waste in Delaware under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, the Delaware Geological Survey has prepared this report to assist the citizens of our State in understanding this complex subject. Emphasis here is on geologic and hydrologic aspects of disposal. Health, social, and economic factors are outside the scope of this report and are not discussed. However, they are very important integral parts of the safe disposal of low-level radioactive waste, and must be considered when selecting suitable disposal sites.
To conduct an elevation survey, a surveyor needs a starting point for which the exact elevation above mean sea level is known. These starting points are called benchmarks. State and federal agencies install benchmarks throughout every State, creating a network of elevation points which covers the entire continental United States. These benchmarks are considered to be permanent, and usually consist of a brass, bronze, or aluminum disc about 4 inches in diameter mounted in a cement post or in a drill hole in a permanent foundation. Each benchmark also has the installing agency's name and an identification number stamped into it. In December of 1980 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) allotted the State of Delaware funds to determine the number and condition of federal benchmarks and other elevation reference control points. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), contained within FEMA, requires accurate flood surveys of property in flood-prone areas. An extensive and accurate benchmark network throughout the State is needed to help meet these needs.
In the United States more than 3.5 billion tons of solid waste are generated annually. Of this, more than 2 billion tons are agricultural waste, such as manure and crop waste. Almost 300 million tons are generated by commercial and industrial activities and municipalities, and another 1.1 billion tons are attributed to various mining operations (Vaughan, 1969). Increasing amounts of solid waste have had detrimental effects on environmental quality. It has become necessary to reprocess and reuse some, and to provide safe and environmentally acceptable ways of disposing of the remaining waste in properly constructed landfills. Pollution brought about by improperly constructed landfills may be very severe. For example, the contaminants generated by the waste at the old, abandoned Army Creek Landfill, New Castle County, Delaware, were so widespread that the situation received national attention. General and sincere concern expressed by many citizens of our State has prompted the Delaware Geological Survey to prepare this report. The report explains the functioning of a landfill, problems improperly constructed landfills may cause, and the geologic and hydrologic aspects that have to be considered in selecting a suitable disposal site for solid waste. The report does not contain discussions of other important factors, such as social impact, transportation, and specific health hazards, that must also be considered.
This report was prepared to provide a simple but comprehensive overview of programs and concepts of highly radioactive waste disposal. This report is not based on original research, but was prepared from data and information reported in voluminous publications of the U.S. Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Geological Survey.
The purpose of this report is to provide information on the mining industry of Delaware as an essential component of a growing economy. The industry, particularly in sand and gravel mining, must deal with uneven regulation, land use competition, and environmental pressures. It is hoped that the information gathered here will assist planning and regulatory agencies as well as an interested general public in evaluating the role of the extractive mineral industry.
The nature and occurrence of subsurface resources, whether ground water, minerals, or petroleum, are controlled by the geologic history and framework of any particular area. Several years ago the staff of the Delaware Geological Survey began an informal assessment of the potential resources of southern Delaware and demonstrated the lack of basic data on the deep subsurface in this area. This assessment was later summarized by Benson (1976) with particular emphasis on the possibilities for petroleum occurrence.
The information contained in this Guidebook was compiled on the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the Association of American State Geologists held in Delaware in June 1977. The Delaware Geological Survey is pleased to have been selected to host this national meeting. The field trip logs were designed to familiarize geologists from across the United States with basic features of Delaware's geology and resources. We have also sought to identify some points of historical and cultural interest that may help the visitor become familiar with our State. Experience has shown that field guides retain their usefulness beyond the event that they initially served. They may assist classes, other groups, and individuals seeking additional information about their physical environment. Therefore, this Guidebook has been published as an Open File Report for public distribution. All users of this information are urged to exercise caution, especially at rock faces and along waterways, and to obtain specific permission for visits from landowners where necessary.
The Delaware Geological Survey conducted a review of existing ground-water quality data collected from shallow (less than 100 feet deep) domestic water-supply wells and small public water-supply wells (serving fewer than 100 residents) to determine the extent to which toxic and carcinogenic compounds are present in the shallow ground water serving domestic water supply wells. These data were generated by several agencies including the Delaware Geological Survey, U.S. Geological Survey, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware Division of Public Health Office of Drinking Water, and the Delaware Department of Agriculture Pesticide Management Program.
The occurrences of earthquakes in northern Delaware and adjacent areas of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey are well documented by both historical and instrumental records. Over 550 earthquakes have been documented within 150 miles of Delaware since 1677. One of the earliest known events occurred in 1737 and was felt in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. The largest known event in Delaware occurred in the Wilmington area in 1871 with an intensity of VII (Modified Mercalli Scale). The second largest event occurred in the Delaware area in 1973 (magnitude 3.8 and maximum Modified Mercalli Intensity of V-VI). The epicenter for this event was placed in or near the Delaware River. Sixty-nine earthquakes have been documented or suspected in Delaware since 1871.
The Seaford area geologic mapping project (Andres and Ramsey, 1995) was conducted by Delaware Geological Survey (DGS) staff and focused on the Seaford East (SEE) and Delaware portion of the Seaford West (SEW) quadrangles (Fig. 1). Data evaluated in support of mapping from these quadrangles and surrounding areas are documented in this report.
OFR5 Removal of Metallic Contaminants from Industrial Waste Waters by the Use of Greensands, A Preliminary Report
The Delaware Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U. S. Bureau of Mines, has investigated glauconite-bearing greensand deposits in Delaware for several years. The purpose of this effort is to find possible practical uses for this potentially important mineral resource. This report briefly describes the preliminary results of one phase of the study: application of greensands to the purification of industrial waste waters.
Inspection of water analyses on file at the Delaware Geological Survey revealed that 25 percent of the shallow wells yield water with nitrate concentrations approaching or in excess of the Delaware State Board of Health and U. S. Public Health Service limit of 45 parts per million (ppm). Nitrate concentrations greater than 45 ppm seem to be detrimental to the health of infants during their first few months of life; adults drinking the same water are not affected but breast-fed infants of mothers drinking such water may become ill. The illness ("blue baby sickness" or methemoglobinemia) results from the conversion of nitrate to nitrite by nitrite-forming bacteria in the upper part of the digestive tract of some infants and the further conversion of hemoglobin to methemoglobin which is incapable of transporting oxygen; the result is oxygen starvation. Little is known about the low level effect of undetected methemoglobinemia on infants.
Earthquakes in Delaware and surrounding areas have been well documented historically since about the early 1700’s and since 1972 by instrumental records. Most of the Delaware events have occurred in the Wilmington area immediately adjacent to or within rocks of the Wilmington Complex. Since the compilation of earthquakes by Jordan and others (1974) which lists events through May 1974, six felt earthquakes have occurred in northern Delaware and about 20 additional events in Delaware have been recorded on seismographs of the Delaware Geological Survey. Four of the felt events took place from November 1983 through February 1984 and ranged from a magnitude 1.5 to 2.9. The highest intensity for this series of earthquakes was a possible V (Modified Mercalli). Epicenters were generally in the north Wilmington area as determined both instrumentally and by felt reports.
Distilled water spiked with heavy metal cations was passed at a rate of 2-4 ml/min through a filter composed of greensand containing about 80 percent glauconite. The capability of the greensand to trap metal cations is increased by prolonging the contact time between the leachate and the greensand. Flushing the charged greensand filter with water does not cause significant release of cations back into solution, suggesting that polluted greensand might be disposed in landfills without adding pollutants to either ground or surface water in the vicinity.
OFR30 Evaluation of Remote Sensing and Surface Geophysical Methods for Locating Underground Storage Tanks
Delaware Code, Title 7, Chapter 74, Section 7415 states in part: "The Delaware Geological Survey shall investigate the feasibility of utilizing aerial photographs and other new advanced techniques for locating abandoned tanks." In response to this charge, the Delaware Geological Survey has completed a survey of currently available remote sensing and geophysical tools to determine which methods may be utilized to locate underground storage tanks. Limited preliminary field testing has been performed.
OFR28 Potential for Ground-Water Recharge in the Coastal Plain of Northern New Castle County, Delaware
This map was constructed primarily to indicate the possibilities for artificial recharge into both the surficial sediments of Quaternary age (exclusive of soils) and the older, immediately underlying sediments. However it can also be used to determine where natural recharge might be entering the ground most readily in those areas relatively free from impermeable cover. The surficial sediments include micaceous sands and gravels in the vicinity of the Fall Line derived from underlying crystalline rocks, Holocene marsh deposits, Delaware River sediments, and the Columbia Formation of Pleistocene age. The Columbia Formation is composed of poorly sorted sands with some gravels, silts and occasional clays. The unit is one of the most important ground-water reservoirs in New Castle County.
B5 Sedimentary Petrology of the Cretaceous Sediments of Northern Delaware in Relation to Paleogeographic Problems
The non-marine Cretaceous sediments of northern Delaware older than the Magothy formation cannot be divided accurately into formations or mappable geologic units because their lithologic characteristics are very similar. However, two heavy mineral zones can be distinguished in these deposits: a lower staurolite-kyanite-tourmaline-zircon zone, and an upper tourmaline-zircon-rutile zone with abundant alterites. They have been named the Patuxent zone and the Patapsco-Raritan zone respectively. The Magothy formation is characterized by abundant staurolite and also contains significant amounts of tourmaline. The marine Upper Cretaceous deposits have a greater variety of heavy minerals than the underlying non-marine sediments. They contain abundant epidote; chloritoid, first appearing at the base of the Merchantville formation, is persistently present. Garnet is found in the Merchantville and the Mount Laurel-Navesink formations. The heavy mineral composition of the Cretaceous sediments is shown in table IV.
Water-level records from 13 observation wells in Delaware for the period July, 1966 - December, 1977 provide the bases for the analyses of water-level fluctuations. Water levels in shallow water-table wells generally rise from November to March, when recharge exceeds discharge, and decline during the warm growing season from May through September. Although water-levels in individual wells changed by as much as 11.17 feet during the 11.5 year period studied, the water-table system remained in a state of dynamic equilibrium and exhibited no permanent changes in aquifer storage. However, the water levels in three artesian observation wells have declined during the same 11.5 year period in response to high demands for ground water while levels in the other two artesian wells have risen slightly due to a reduction in ground-water discharge, or increase in ground-water recharge, or both. Nevertheless during the past several decades, water levels have declined, cones of depression have enlarged, and reductions in aquifer storage, have occurred in the Potomac aquifer in central and southeastern New Castle County, and the Piney Point and Cheswold aquifers in the Dover-Dover Air Force Base area. Therefore, future groundwater development in the artesian aquifers must be carefully planned and managed.