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Lithologic Coring in the Lower Anacostia Tidal Watershed, Washington, D.C., July 2002

By Frederick J. Tenbus

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Little is known about the volumetric flux of Groundwater to the lower tidal Anacostia River, or whether Groundwater flow is an important component of the contaminant load in this part of the Anacostia River. The watershed is in the eastern part of Washington, D.C., and has been subjected to over 200 years of urbanization and modifications of the river channel and nearby land areas. These anthropogenic factors, along with tidal fluctuations in the river, make Groundwater data collection and interpretations difficult.

The U.S. Geological Survey is cooperating with the District of Columbia Department of Health, Environmental Health Administration, Bureau of Environmental Quality, Water Quality Division, in a study to assess nonpoint-source pollution from Groundwater into the lower tidal Anacostia River. Lithologic cores from drilling activities conducted during July 2002 in the study area have been interpreted in the context of geologic and hydrogeologic information from previous studies in the lower Anacostia tidal watershed. These interpretations can help achieve the overall project goals of characterizing Groundwater flow and contaminant load in the study area.

Hydrostratigraphic units encountered during drilling generally consisted of late Pleistocene to Holocene fluvial deposits overlying Cretaceous fluvial/deltaic deposits. Cores collected in Beaverdam Creek and the Anacostia River indicated high- and low-energy environments of deposition, respectively. Two cores collected near the river showed different types of anthropogenic fill underlain by low-energy deposits, which were in turn underlain by sand and gravel. A third core collected near the river consisted primarily of sand and gravel with no artificial fill.

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