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Geosciences LibreTexts

5.1: Introduction

  • Page ID
    5503
  • Overview

    Think how many times a day you take water for granted – you assume the tap will be flowing when you turn on your faucet, you expect rainfall to water your lawn, and you may count on water for your recreation. Not only is water necessary for many of life’s functions but it is also a considerable geologic agent. Water can sculpt the landscape dramatically over time both by carving canyons as well as depositing thick layers of sediment. Some of these processes are slow and result in landscapes worn down over time. Others, such as floods, can be dramatic and dangerous.

     

    What happens to water during a rainstorm? Imagine that you are outside in a parking lot with grassy areas nearby. Where does the water from the parking lot go? Much of it will run off as sheet flow and eventually join a stream. What happens to the rain in the grassy area? Much of it will infiltrate, or soak into the ground. We will deal with both surface and groundwater in this lab. Both are integral parts of the water cycle, in which water gets continually recycled through the atmosphere, to the land, and back to the oceans. This cycle, powered by the sun, operates easily since water can change form from liquid to gas (or water vapor) quickly under surface conditions.

     

    Both surface and groundwater are beneficial for drinking water, industry, agriculture, recreation, and commerce. Demand for water will only increase as population increases, making it vital to protect water sources both above and below ground.

     

    Key Terms

    • Aquifer
    • Discharge
    • Drainage Basin
    • Drainage Divide
    • Drainage Pattern
    • Floodplain
    • Karst Topography
    • Natural Levee
    • Permeability
    • Porosity
    • Recurrence Interval
    • Stream Gradient