Physical Characteristics and Estimated Hydraulic Conductivity from Grain-Size Distribution for Vashon Till, South-Central Puget Lowland, Washington
Knoedler, Eric Nathanial
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Population growth, urban development, and increased commercial and industrial activity in the south-central Puget Lowlands of Washington State has led to an increased demand for groundwater. The Vashon till is a glacially consolidated, low-permeability unit comprising unstratified clay, silt, cobbles and boulders with ubiquitous coarse-grained lenses and is an extensive surficial unit throughout the south-central Puget Lowland. Thus, understanding the physical and hydrological characteristics – specifically, the hydraulic conductivity – of this unit is a necessary component of a groundwater model. This study provides (1) a record of the physical characteristics of Vashon till deposits within the study area; and (2) an estimate of the highest, lowest, and average value of saturated hydraulic conductivity based on the grain-size distribution of Vashon till samples collected from six field sites in the Puyallup River Watershed. Analysis shows that the average moisture content ranges between about 1 and 6%, average dry bulk density is about 2.20 g/cm3, and average porosity is about 17%. Grain-size distributions show that half of the samples analyzed are well graded, while the other half is poorly graded. Grain-size distributions also show an average d10 value of about 0.20 mm, and average ff values ≤ 16%, which are key values in estimating the saturated hydraulic conductivity of over-consolidated glacial deposits. Based on these observed values, the estimates of hydraulic conductivity range from a minimum of 0.02 m/d to a maximum of 1.38 m/d in within the general Vashon till.