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Old 10-07-2006, 10:56 PM   #1
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Non-serious question, excavation-related

Hey guys,

I have some questions I've been wondering for most of my life. I know they're kind of stupid questions but no one has ever really given me answers. So here they are...

1. What happens when you dig a very deep hole and you hit water level? Does the hole fill to the top with water? Does nothing happen?

2. What if you're standing in the hole once you hit water? Do you fall into some "underground lake/river"? Is it like quick sand? Or is it like mud?

3. Is there any way you can make a water spring in the ground by drilling to water and have it continuously come out?

Sorry if these questions are dumb. I'm 18 and I've wondered these since I was like 8 or 10. I've always liked digging holes, big huge holes. Just wondering if anyone can answer my questions.

Thanks in advance!


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Old 10-07-2006, 11:44 PM   #2
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1-the water will rise to the level of the water table and no further. (Exception- see #3)

2-There is no underground cavity full of water, just the ground, whatever the soil type is, is waterlogged.

3-It can happen that you hit water under pressure if you dig (or drill) a hole. A friend of mine drilled a well at his home and the water continuously poured out the top until he capped it, but this is rare.

That's my take on it, I'm sure others have more, perhaps better, info, after all, I don't dig wells for a living.


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Old 10-08-2006, 05:45 AM   #3
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To further define #3, a spring is fed by gravity, not pressure, and is will be found where there is a higher water level or table nearby. It is like tapping into an underground natural water flow. In my country, which is flat, if a pond is dug, and never goes dry, it is referred to as "spring fed" when in reality, it is just hooked up the ground water source.
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Old 10-08-2006, 10:13 AM   #4
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Hey guys,

Thanks for answering the questions. I guess I'm kind of bummed with #3, I always thought it'd be cool to make a natural water spring that flowed into the pond in my back yard.

Two more questions:
1. How do people dig past the water table? (Like when they're digging a very deep hole for like a large building or something.)

2. Where I live we have a bunch of old iron ore mines that have been tuirned into lakes. If these old mines are above the water table, how do they turn them into huge lakes and are able to keep water in them without it going dry?

Thanks again, it's pretty fun learning about this stuff.
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Old 10-10-2006, 12:13 PM   #5
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Non-serious question, excavation-related

Some springs can be fed by pressure.

An artesian well is under pressure. You might have to go down several hundred feet to hit water. When you hit the water (the artisian layer), the pressure might force the water almost up to the surface. If it comes up to a layer of permeable rock (sandstone, fractured limestone, sand, etc.) it can flow horizontally and come out as a spring. The water can be quite cold depending on the location.

An artisian basin is a saucer shaped layer of permeable rock (sandstone) that is overlaid with up to 200 - 400 feet of soil. The water can enter around the edges and will flow into the center. The water coming out could have spent several thousand years being filtered.

My area is underlaid by a basin about 70 to 100 miles across. Some, like the Ogalala basin in Nebraska are much larger, but are being depleted.


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Old 10-10-2006, 08:42 PM   #6
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On the barrier islands of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, artesian wells are common. These are sand dune islands, seldom topping 10' in height, yet the water flows from the well heads at a pretty good rate. I am not sure of the exact mechanism, but have always asumed that it was because of saltwater intrusion/pressure into the brackish sands.

There are various ways to dig below the water table; a common system in sandy areas is called a Well-point system, in which a series of holes are driven around the perimeter of the excavation and hooked to pumps. These pumps will remove water from the hole. One of my first jobs as a kid, when I was maybe 12 years old, was as a well-point operator. What this meant was that every half hour, all night long, I would take a wrench and open/close valves on alternate pumping points. This was to prevent any particular point from sucking dry.

You can also gunite the hole, but will still have to have a sump pit and pumps. Well drillers use drilling mud to seal the casing until they hit the layer they are looking for.

As for how a lake can be maintained without a spring source, they would have to have a surface drainage area feeding the lake to maintain the level against outflow/evaportation. This varies depending upon the part of the world and the climate. In Central Texas, for example, you need a 20 to 1 ratio at a minimum; in Southern Louisiana, it is less than 1 to 1.


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