Editor’s Note: Independent Study (IS) at The College of Wooster is a three-course series required of every student before graduation. Earth Sciences students typically begin in the second semester of their junior years with project identification, literature review, and a thesis essentially setting out the hypotheses and parameters of the work. Most students do fieldwork or lab work to collect data, and then spend their senior years finishing extensive Senior I.S. theses. Ryan Sullivan was advised by Mark Wilson (me!). The following is his thesis abstract —
In this study I created a hydrological and geological profile across a series of private groundwater wells in Shreve, Ohio. I started by making a cross section of this area through well log data. I discovered that this consists of alternating layers of shale and sandstone, as well as varying depths of glacial deposits. These changes in sediment and bedrock allow for a distinct groundwater flow, as well as different extraction rates. By analyzing the topography of the greater Shreve area, I also identified the drainage basin for this aquifer and potential sources of surface water and groundwater interactions. To assess water quality, I sampled two private wells located above this aquifer, testing for major trace elements. I found that the water utilized by these residents of Shreve is mostly free of contamination; however, there is eight to nine times the accepted maximum concentration limit of thallium. Long-term exposure to excess thallium can result in adverse health effects, so I present possible mitigation strategies, as well as a new potential well site that could be utilized to maximize groundwater extraction while minimizing contamination levels.