In 2015, staff of the Water Supply Section of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) informed the DGS of their concerns about overpumping of the unconfined Columbia aquifer in an area east of Dover (Figure 1). In this area, the City of Dover’s Long Point Road Wellfield (LPRW) and numerous irrigation systems pump water from the shallow Columbia aquifer.
The geological history of the surficial units of the Clayton, Smyrna, and the Delaware portion of the Millington Quadrangles are the result of deposition of the Beaverdam Formation and its modification by erosion and deposition of the Columbia Formation during the early Pleistocene. These units were then modified by the Lynch Heights and Scotts Corners Formations as a result of sea-level fluctuations during the middle to late Pleistocene. The geology is further complicated by periglacial activity that produced Carolina Bay deposits in the map area, which modified the land surface.
The composition, thickness, and geophysical log signature of the Bethany Formation vary with location and depth. In general, the Bethany Formation is a sequence of clayey and silty beds with discontinuous lenses of sand (Andres, 1986; Ramsey, 2003). The most common lithologies are silty, clayey fine sand; sandy, silty clay; clayey, sandy silt; fine to medium sand; sandy, clayey silt, and medium to coarse sand with granule and pebble layers. Thin gravel layers occur most frequently in updip areas and are rarer in downdip areas. Sands are typically quartzose. Lignite, plant remains, and mica are common, grains of glauconite are rare. In the Lewes area, Ramsey (2003) describes the Bethany Formation as consisting of gray, olive gray, bluish-gray clay to clayey silt interbedded with fine to very coarse sand. Lignitic and gravelly beds are common.
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.
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.
The following table displays the correlation of hydrologic units to geologic units recognized by the Delaware Geological Survey in the Atlantic Coastal Plain.
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.
Light gray to blue gray, fine to medium, shelly, silty, quartz sand and clayey silt. Discontinuous beds of fine sand and medium to coarse quartz sand are common. Base of the unit is marked by a coarse to granule sand that fines upwards to a medium to fine silty sand. This sand is the Milford aquifer (Ramsey, 1997; McLaughlin and Velez, 2006). In southern Kent County, can be subdivided into upper and lower units. Lower unit consists of the fining-upward sequence from the basal sand to a hard clayey silt to silty clay that ranges in color from grayish brown to bluish gray. Upper unit consists of clean to silty, fine to medium, moderately shelly sands with thin silty clay beds. Rarely found in outcrop in the upper reaches of some of the more deeply incised streams. Outcrops are too small to be shown on this map. Found in the southern half of Kent County. Up to 140 feet thick in the southernmost part of the county.