This report has been prepared to fill an immediate need for information on the earthquake that affected northern Delaware on February 28, 1973. Public interest in seismic events has grown in the past two years because of a series of small, local events (Jordan et al., 1972) and has been heightened considerably by the event described in this report. Various stresses on and within the earth lead to periodic adjustments or changes by the rocks making up the earth's crust. Many changes are too slow or small to be measured within a human lifetime, but earthquakes can be a very perceptible phenomenon, expressing more rapid adjustment. Indeed, earthquakes in many areas of the world are a serious geologic hazard and a threat to life and property. Thus, it must be recognized that the earth is a dynamic body and its processes are not bound to the convenience of man.
Earthquakes are an unfamiliar phenomenon in Delaware. Because of the great public and scientific interest in the seismic events that have recently affected northern Delaware, this Open File Report has been prepared to present currently available information concerning the earthquakes and the investigation pursued by the Delaware Geological Survey. This is not a final scientific explanation of the events. To many persons it is shocking to realize that the earth that they regard as stable is, in fact, an active body. The present earth is a product of 4.5 billion years of history, during which time most geologic forces have acted so slowly as to be almost imperceptible. Therefore, sudden movements are disturbing. Earthquakes are the vibrations caused by relatively sudden slippage of deeply buried rocks. Earthquakes occur in a vast range of sizes; many are too small to be felt and others cause great damage. The events in Delaware that are described on these pages were relatively small and, although they warrant further study, which may lead to some precautionary measures, they do not represent cause for alarm.
Heavy precipitation associated with intense thunderstorm activity occurred in northern New Castle County, Delaware, from 0500 to 1300 hours on July 5, 1989. The most intense rainfall, which fell between 0600 and 1100 hours, is classified as a 100 year event in New Castle County. Record high stream discharges occurred at five gaged sites and three miscellaneous sites. One hundred-year floods were recorded at four sites.
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.
This Bulletin presents the subsurface stratigraphy of the post-Potomac Cretaceous and Tertiary rocks of the Atlantic Coastal Plain of central Delaware, between the Chesapeake and Delaware (C & D) Canal and Dover. Geophysical log correlations supported by biostratigraphic and lithologic data from boreholes in Delaware and nearby New Jersey provide the basis for the report. The stratigraphic framework presented here is important for identifying subsurface stratigraphic units penetrated by the numerous boreholes in this part of Delaware, particularly those rock units that serve as aquifers, because such knowledge allows for better prediction at ground-water movement and availability. Also, accurate stratigraphy is a prerequisite for interpreting the geologic history of the rocks and for the construction of maps that depict the structure and thickness of each unit.
The effect of rapid growth in the Hockessin and Pleasant Hill areas in northern Delaware has caused concern about possible declines in ground-water recharge to the underlying Cockeysville Formation. The Cockeysville is a major source of ground water (aquifer) in the Hockessin area from which about 1.5 million gallons of water per day is withdrawn for public water supply, even though it receives recharge over a relatively small area of 1.6 square miles. The Cockeysville in the Pleasant Hill area is currently used as a source at water supply for individual domestic users and one school. Results of ground-water exploration in the Pleasant Hill area suggest that the Cockeysville is capable of yielding several hundreds of gallons per minute to individual wells for water supply. A two-year investigation was undertaken to map the extent of the Cockeysville Formation and address questions of long-term ground-water yields. the sources of recharge, and the effects of additional development on ground-water supplies. Results of various field studies were integrated to determine the basic geologic framework and those elements that particularly affect ground-water supply.
B14 Hydrology of the Columbia (Pleistocene) Deposits of Delaware: An Appraisal of a Regional Water-Table Aquifer
The Columbia (Pleistocene) deposits of Delaware form a regional water-table aquifer, which supplies about half the ground water pumped in the State. The aquifer is composed principally of sands which occur as channel fillings in northern Delaware and as a broad sheet across central and southern Delaware. The saturated thickness of the aquifer ranges from a few feet in many parts of northern Delaware to more than 180 feet in southern Delaware. Throughout 1,500 square miles of central and southern Delaware (75 percent of the State's area), the saturated thickness ranges from 25 to 180 feet and the Columbia deposits compose all or nearly all of the water-table aquifer.
B13 Geology, Hydrology, and Geophysics of Columbia Sediments in the Middletown-Odessa Area, Delaware
Columbia sediments in the Middletown-Odessa area are composed of boulders, gravels, sands, silts and clays. These sediments are exposed in four gravel pits where their structures and textures were studied. Subsurface geology was interpreted on the basis of the well-log data from 40 holes drilled in the area of study. Columbia sediments were laid upon a surface made up of the greensands of the Rancocas Formation (Paleocene – Eocene age). The contact between the Rancocas and Columbia Formations is an erosional unconformity.
Southern New Castle County has a land area of 190 square miles in north-central Delaware. It is predominantly a rural area with a population of about 9,000 people who are engaged chiefly in agriculture. By and large, the residents are dependent upon ground water as a source of potable water. This investigation was made to provide knowledge of the availability and quality of the ground-water supply to aid future development. The climate, surface features, and geology of the area are favorable for the occurrence of ground water. Temperatures are generally mild and precipitation is normally abundant and fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The topography of the area is relatively flat and, hence, the streams have low gradients. The surface is underlain to a considerable depth by highly permeable unconsolidated sediments that range in age from Early Cretaceous to Recent.
The purpose of this investigation was to obtain data on and study the factors affecting the salinity of the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pa., to the Appoquinimink River, Del. The general chemical quality of water in the estuary is described, including changes in salinity in the river cross section and profile, diurnal and seasonal changes, and the effects of rainfall, sea level, and winds on salinity. Relationships are established of the concentrations of chloride and dissolved solids to specific conductance. In addition to chloride profiles and isochlor plots, time series are plotted for salinity or some quantity representing salinity, fresh-water discharge, mean river level, and mean sea level. The two major variables which appear to have the greatest effect on the salinity of the estuary are the fresh-water flow of the river and sea level. The most favorable combination of these variables for salt-water encroachment occurs from August to early October and the least favorable combination occurs between December and May.
This investigation was undertaken to locate deposits of rock, sand, gravel, fill and borrow in northern New Castle County which may be potential sources of material for highway construction, and to prepare maps and descriptions of the surficial earth materials relative to their geologic and engineering properties.
Northern Delaware, the area above the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in New Castle County, is an area of rapidly growing population and expanding industry. In some places the demand for water has reached or exceeded the capacity of the existing facilities creating apparent water shortages. Many agencies, both public and private, are attempting to alleviate these shortages; studies are being made and reports prepared for immediate action as well as long-term planning. It is the purpose of this report to examine on a long-range basis the water resources of the northern Delaware area. This examination indicates that the surface-water and groundwater resources of the area far exceed the 72.8mgd (million gallons per day) used during 1955. The amount of ground water potentially available in the area is estimated to be at least 30 mgd and the amount of surface water potentially available depends principally on the amount of storage that may be feasible economically. Storage of 3 million gallons per square mile would provide an allowable draft rate of 140 mgd with a deficiency at average intervals of ten years, while storage of 30 million gallons per square mile would raise the allowable draft to 250 mgd, which is about half of the mean annual discharge. In addition to the fresh-water resources, saline water from the Delaware River and its tidal estuaries is available in almost unlimited quantity for cooling, fire fighting, some types of washing, and other purposes.
B2 Geology and Ground-Water Resources of the Newark Area, Delaware with a Section on the Surface Water Resources
This report describes the geological and lithological conditions in the Newark area, and the occurrence, quantity, and quality of the available ground-water supply. Newark is located on the Fall Line, the boundary between the rolling hills of the Piedmont on the north and the gentle slopes of the Coastal Plain on the south. Because the Piedmont is underlain by dense crystalline rocks and their weathered clayey soils, which are of low water-bearing capacity in contrast to the more permeable silts and sands of the Coastal Plain, the exploration for ground water was confined to the Coastal Plain south and southeast of Newark.
Additional sources of ground water have been located in the Piedmont Province as a result of a ground-water exploration program conducted by the Delaware Geological Survey at the University of Delaware in cooperation with the City of Newark. Drilling sites for relatively high-yielding wells were located through the use of geophysical investigations, air-photo interpretation, field mapping, and review of existing data.