Identifying Aquifer Type in Fractured Rock Aquifers using Harmonic Analysis


School of Geology, Oklahoma State University, 105 Noble Research Center, Stillwater, OK 74078; (405) 744-6358; fax: (405) 744-7841;


Determining aquifer type, unconfined, semi-confined, or confined, by drilling or performing pumping tests has inherent problems (i.e., cost and complex field issues) while sometimes yielding inconclusive results. An improved method to cost-effectively determine aquifer type would be beneficial for hydraulic mapping of complex aquifer systems like fractured rock aquifers. Earth tides are known to influence water levels in wells penetrating confined aquifers or unconfined thick, low-porosity aquifers. Water-level fluctuations in wells tapping confined and unconfined aquifers are also influenced by changes in barometric pressure. Harmonic analyses of water-level fluctuations of a thick (∼1000 m) carbonate aquifer located in south-central Oklahoma (Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer) were utilized in nine wells to identify aquifer type by evaluating the influence of earth tides and barometric-pressure variations using signal identification. On the basis of the results, portions of the aquifer responded hydraulically as each type of aquifer even though there was no significant variation in lithostratigraphy. The aquifer type was depth dependent with confined conditions becoming more prevalent with depth. The results demonstrate that harmonic analysis is an accurate and low-cost method to determine aquifer type.