Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, February 19, 1972, Image 14

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    14—Lancaster Farming, Saturday, February 19, 1972
But Don't Bulldoze Away the Evidence
Aerial Photos —A Modern Water Sniffer?
Booming towns and cities may
be bulldozing away the best
evidence they will ever get as to
the presence beneath them of
abundant sources of fresh water.
The warning emerges from the
development of a new method of
prospecting for ground water
from the air.
Seven yearr ago Dr. Richard R.
Panzek, Pennsylvania State
University, and Dr. Lawrence H.
Lattman, now at the University
of Cincinnati, published their
discovery that zones of highly
fractured rock containing
significant quantities of ground
water reflect their presence in
subtle surface traces best
detected on aerial photographs.
One of the geologists actually
learned to fly in order to pursue
the research. .The method has
proved almost spectacularly
“. . the last six community
and industrial wells," a report
reads, “intentionally located by
this method . . . had a.combined
tested capacity of seven million
gallons per day and a con
servatively projected combined
capacity of more than 11 million
gallons per day. This is enough
water to supply a population of
61,000 .
But fracture traces lines of
vegetation, changes in soil tone,
surface sags, straight valley
alignments, etc. can be wiped
out by a bulldozer.
“Urban areas or mushrooming
developments, which have the
greatest need of dependable
water supplies,” says Parizek,
“are almost impossible to
prospect using aerial observation
techniques. Once fractured trace
clues have been obliterated, the
water prospector often has little
recourse but to fall back on
random drilling methods.
“By the simple expedient of
taking aerial photographs (or
filing existing ones) before
disturbing the land, cities,
developers, or private in
dividuals could preserve a record
of the topography that would be
invaluable to geologists selecting
well-sites, years later, using the
fracture trace method ”
Despite the predominance of
bulldozers, the new method is
now proving out in many parts of
the country: communities hard
pressed for fresh water are able
to open gushing wells in rocks
which were previously con
sidered poorly productive.
In most rock, a system of
“conduits” or joints has
developed over centuries,
allowing subsurface flow and
chemical leaching. These joints
are interconnected in what
amounts to a vast underground
plumbing network. Ground water
tends to gather in these conduits
and where two or more joints
or zones of joints meet, more
water is usually found
Fracture traces show up on
aerial photographs as obscure,
narrow lines and straight
alignment of features. Still, such
lines often denote continuous
zones that may be almost a mile
in length and as much as 50 feet
wide: veritable “rivers” beneath
the ground.
Consequently, the fracture
trace method can consistently
pin-point well sites that yield
significant and often spectacular
quantities of ground water.
Where randomly picked sites
produced wells with one to 100
gallon-per-minute yield, the new
method has produced wells in
0 ~r f
Nature’s subterranean plumbing reveals itself by subtle
lines on the earth's surface, normally visible only from the air.
Two Penn State geologists spent 10 years perfecting the
"fracture trace" method of prospecting for groundwater and
the same rock, often only a few
yards away yielding 500 to
2,500 gallons per minute
The Pennsylvania State
University, where Parizek and
Lattman made their studies,
routinely uses the fracture-trace
technique in looking for water on
its own property. So does the
borough of State College, where
the Penn State main campus is
located. Many other communities
are following suit.
A well with anything less than
500 gallons per minute is con
sidered a “dry hole” by
University and borough officials.
“Of the last 13 wells drilled in
the area,” reports Parizek, “only
one had a yield of less than 500
gallons per minute.” All the well
sites were located by the fracture
trace technique.
Parizek and Lattman caution
that aerial photography alone is
not enough. Field studies are
highly desirable and test borings
are often used to verify the data
assembled from aerial ob
servation. Also, an intimate
knowledge of the geology of the
region is essential.
The new method, besides
locating prime water-well sites,
helps to characterize the sub
terranean “lay of the land:”
document its physical condition.
This has important engineering
applications; foreknowledge of
the presence of highly fractured
and decomposed rock could help
keep tunnels, mines, highway
cuts, sky-scraper or ordinary
building excavations from being
flooded by ground water or being
damaged due to poor foundation
conditions. In addition, the
method can be used to locate
areas where excessive leakage
may occur beneath dams and
The Parizek-Lattman method
begins to put water prospecting
on a par with oil prospecting as
far as scientific underpinning is
See Us For Your Needs.
Ph. Strasburg
' o ' v
/ _
I Zone of
/ Fracture
/ Concentrat
“With the demand for fresh
water now world-wide,” says
Parizek, “something had to be
done to get water prospecting in
fractured rock out of the ‘forked
stick’ stage. The water-yielding
potential of most rock and soil
strata can be enormous. Their
waters are constantly
replenished by rain and
snowmelt, by underground flow,
or by seepage from lakes and
rivers. The supply is not
unlimited, or course and our
research is now geared to finding
out just how long it might be
before a given well or well field
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Textural and
' o - Compositional
2a '2=-'
can pinpoint well-sites which, when drilled, may yield up to
3,000 times more water than wells chosen at random. Fresh
water tends to gather in decomposed rock zones, and where
two or more zones intersect more water is usually found.
constructed on a fracture zone
runs dry.
“But water in significant
quantities is often there for the
asking; we just need to know
more about how and where to
‘ask’. This may impose a
challenge to drillers, who often
encounter severe broken-rock
conditions, but the water is
Research on the technique is
continuing under a grant from
the Mineral Conservation Section
at Penn State and with support
from the University’s Institute
for Research on Land and Water
R. D, 1, Willow Street
Dr. Parizek is professor of
geology and assistant director of
the Mineral Conservation Sec
tion. Working with him at Penn
State are Dr. Shamsul H. Sid
digui. Dr. Barry Voight, Dr.
Shelton Alexander and Dr.
Richard Merkel, all of the College
of Earth and Mineral Sciences.
George C. Cline, Robert L.
Brown and Larry Drew, former
graduate research assistants,
also worked on various aspects of
the project.
Over 2,500 reprints have been
distributed of the first major
publication of findings by Latt
man and Parizek (1964).
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