Geological Research at the IGS

Unsaturated-zone hydrology of glacial hydrogeologic settings in Indiana

Status Start Date End Date Locations
Extended Sep 1, 2011 Oct 1, 2017 All Counties
Director: Shawn Naylor
Other Researchers: Robert Autio, Kevin Ellett, Sally Letsinger Professor Darren Ficklin (IU Geography Dept.), Professor Greg Olyphant (IU Geology Dept.), Professor Monica Prezzi (Purdue Engineering Dept.)
Funding: Indiana University - Indiana Geological & Water Survey
Issue: Understanding water movement through the unsaturated zone is essential to maximizing agricultural productivity, minimizing flood impacts, limiting contaminant transport to aquifers, and elucidating potential climate-change impacts on Indiana’s water resources.
Objective: Unsaturated zone data from monitoring sites in eight unique glacial hydrogeologic settings are processed and analyzed to better understand rates of water movement toward underlying aquifers and adjacent surface water bodies.
Approach: Each site collects micrometeorological data including precipitation, wind speed, and solar radiation, which control the flux of water in and out at the ground surface. The monitoring approach also includes buried instruments that measure soil moisture, soil temperature, and matric potential sensors to determine how tightly water is held in pore spaces. Groundwater level fluctuations are also measured to validate numerical models of water flux in the unsaturated zone.
Products: • Peer-reviewed publication summarizing results of 1D modelling efforts (submitted) • Peer-reviewed publication summarizing 2D modelling of groundwater and surface water interactions within various glacial hydrogeologic settings • Proposal to investigate macropore flow through worm burrows and fractured glacial till • Databases of measured and modeled hydraulic properties for glacial sediments
Benefits: • Develop new methods for analyzing unsaturated zone hydrologic data to support water-resource planning • Link mapped glacial sediments to hydrologic map units • Build hydrologic research program at IGS and IU to answer important questions related to earth’s critical zone

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