Aquifer Test

Aquifer Test - Geological Photo - Jonathan Wells



This image shows a hillside in southeastern Vermont where I participated in an aquifer test to see if the well would provide adequate water supply for an assisted living facility planned for the local rural population.

An aquifer test involves pumping water from a well, measuring the flow rate and water levels, and then using the data to calculate whether the well will provide enough water for the specified use. A submersible pump connected to electric wire and black “poly” pipe and a pressure transducer housed in a white PVC pipe are lowered down the well to pump groundwater and record water levels, respectively.  Both are visible in the image. 

The well had been drilled up on an undeveloped hillside above the valley floor where a number of residential homes are located. While the wells down below in the valley floor are relatively short in depth, this hillside well was drilled much deeper to intersect rock fractures that produce sufficient water.

I was interested in photographing this site because of its sylvan location, as well as my fifteen years of experience as a hydrogeologist. Late in the afternoon on a moderately cold February day, I placed the camera on a tripod with a timer so that I could be in the photograph.

In constructing the image I wanted to recreate the feeling I have when working at a well and collecting data about underlying groundwater. There is no rock in this image. When I photograph rock for my composites, I need a large, clean section, which I typically discover in road excavations. This particular rock type — a gray metamorphic rock called gneiss — was plentiful in southeastern Vermont, but everything I found was either weathered or covered with lichen. This blank spot in the image resonates for me, as a reminder of how much remains mysterious about the subsurface.