19th century studies of the hydrogeology of the Permo-Triassic Sandstones of the northern Cheshire Basin, England
About a dozen workers were active in researching the hydrogeology of the Permo-Triassic sandstones of the northern Cheshire Basin, UK, in the 19th century. They were mostly amateur geologists, members of the geological societies of Liverpool and Manchester. Spurred by the water resource requirement of the two cities and by the formation of the societies, research burgeoned from the mid 1800s. Over the latter part of the century, a conceptual model of flow in the sandstones was developed which has most of the essential features of a present-day conceptual model, including intergranular and fracture flow, fault influence on flow, recharge reduction by drift and urban land cover, overspill recharge, influent river recharge (including estuarine intrusion), and cross-boundary flow. Water balances were undertaken to assess aquifer yield and attempt to understand well yields. Pollution from sewers, river water, estuary water, and graveyards was considered, as was water/rock interaction. Experimental work demonstrated: the proportionality between flow rate and pressure difference (1869); the importance of fractures to well yields (1850); the principle of specific yield (1869); the effects of lamination on unsaturated flow (1877); and the shape of breakthrough curves is sigmoidal (1878). Most of these findings were independent of previous work elsewhere. Whether this is because of the local, essentially amateur environment in which the researchers were operating, or whether this lack of communication was essentially a feature of research at this time, is uncertain. However, it does have implications for general theories of science.