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Fieldwork

Drilling for Submarine Ground Water at Cape Cod National Seashore


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Map shows location of the study area.
Above: Map shows location of the study area.

An interdisciplinary U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and National Park Service (NPS) science team conducted submarine drilling operations at Cape Cod National Seashore from August 22 to 26. The team sought to test some hypotheses about ground-water flow under and into the Nauset Marsh estuary system and to constrain the results of previous modeling efforts. NPS managers are concerned about nutrients that are entering the system via submarine ground-water discharge, leading to eutrophication and harmful algal blooms. The team used a USGS all-terrain-vehicle (ATV)-mounted drilling rig secured to a barge to drive an electrical-resistivity probe into sediment and (or) to collect submarine ground-water samples at seven sites in Salt Pond, Salt Pond Channel, and Salt Pond Bay, which are part of the estuary system.

Results are consistent with surface electrical-resistivity data collected in 2004. Sampling and geophysical measurements indicate that Salt Pond, a kettle pond that has been breached by rising sea level, is underlain by brackish ground water in sediment to a depth of about 45 ft below the sediment surface. Salt Pond Channel, which connects the pond to Salt Pond Bay, has nearly fresh water at shallow depths (10 ft or less below the sediment surface). Most surprisingly, Salt Pond Bay is underlain by a layer of fresh ground water more than 50 ft thick as far offshore as measured (about 1,300 ft).

divers Michael Casso and Sandy Baldwin Andy Massey operates a drilling barge Photograph shows approximate drilling locations in Salt Pond, Salt Pond Channel, and Salt Pond Bay
Above Left: USGS divers Michael Casso (left) and Sandy Baldwin prepare to remove submerged drill pipe near the center of Salt Pond. [larger version]

Above Center: Andy Massey (USGS) operates a drilling barge that is temporarily stranded during low tide on a mudflat at Cape Cod National Seashore. [larger version]

Above Right: Photograph (by Barbara Dougan, NPS) shows approximate drilling locations in Salt Pond, Salt Pond Channel, and Salt Pond Bay. View southeastward. [larger version]

Ground-water sampling was conducted by John Bratton, John Crusius, and Dirk Koopmans (USGS, Woods Hole Science Center, Woods Hole, MA). Andy Massey (USGS Massachusetts-Rhode Island Water Science Center, Northborough, MA) operated the drill rig, and Tim McCobb (also USGS, Northborough) operated the resistivity probe, a Geoprobe Systems Direct Image tool modified for marine work. Contractors Mark Avakian and Len Perry (TG&B, Inc.) operated the barge and secured anchors and spuds. Divers Michael Casso and Sandy Baldwin (USGS, Woods Hole) helped remove drill pipe left in the pond after drilling was complete. Evan Gwilliam and Kelly Chapman (NPS, Cape Cod National Seashore) provided a continuous tide-stage record. John Colman and Denis LeBlanc (USGS, Northborough) provided helpful input during the design and implementation stages of the field effort. The work was supported by the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program, the USGS Massachusetts-Rhode Island Water Science Center, and Cape Cod National Seashore.


Related Sound Waves Stories
Submarine Ground-Water Discharge and Its Influence on Coastal Processes and Ecosystems
June 2004

Related Web Sites
Woods Hole Field Center
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Woods Hole, MA
USGS Massachusetts-Rhode Island Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Northborough, MA
USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Cape Cod National Seashore
National Parks Service

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in this issue: Fieldwork
cover story:
Measuring Hurricane Impacts

Sonar Survey of Sea-Floor Habitats

Drilling for Submarine Ground Water

Outreach Educational Geopark in Florida

USGS and Elementary School Receive Mayor's Top Apple Award

Meetings Workshop on DART Network for Tsunami Forecasting

Chinese Delegation Visits USGS to Discuss Gas-Hydrate Studies

Staff & Center News New Hires for the Western Coastal and Marine Geology Team

Publications October Publications List


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