October 2006

Project funders/partners: SNIFFER, Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Environment & Heritage Service.   
Background to research

Superficial deposits are an important moderator of potential recharge to a bedrock aquifer and they form a key component of the vulnerability of that aquifer to pollution.   Understanding the processes by which superficial deposits transmit recharging water to the water table and how the deposits attenuate pollutants as the water passes through them is a vital component of the characterisation of groundwater bodies as required by the Water Framework Directive.
Superficial deposits may modify both storage and vertical transport of recharge.  In particular:
Objectives of research
The project aims to improve the understanding and analysis of the hydrogeological processes pertaining to recharge and attenuation that occur in the Quaternary superficial deposits in the UK.  The objectives are:  
This report (Part 1) presents a background to the issues and a summary of current knowledge, and includes:
The main components of the developed project methodology, future application and development opportunities are described in the accompanying Part 2 report.   

Key findings and recommendations
The scale-independent methodology has been trialled for the whole of the UK and compared against existing assessments of groundwater recharge and groundwater vulnerability.  These comparisons show that the methodology produces broadly similar results to existing assessments.  However, the methodology follows a rigid and defensible protocol and as such is an attractive alternative to existing schemes.  It is recommended that the methodology be used to populate a new database, derived from 1: 50 000 scale input data, in order to develop a useable vulnerability assessment to assist in the further characterization of groundwater bodies.
Keywords: Quaternary, recharge potential, absorption potential, groundwater vulnerability, hydrogeological domains.

Copies of this report are available from the Foundation, in electronic format on CDRom at 20.00 + VAT or hard copy at 40.00, less 20% to FWR members.
N.B. The report is available for download from the SNIFFER Website