As a start toward needed classifications of hydrogeologic settings, a type of setting is described. The setting includes areas where soluble materials are exposed to considerable recharge from precipitation and where both the topographic relief and permeability are inappreciable. Typical areas of this setting are (1) the Black Belt of the Coastal Plain of Alabama and Mississippi, underlain by chalk of the Selma Group, and (2) a 25-sq-mi area near Harrisburg, Cabarrus County, North Carolina, underlain by gabbro in the Piedmont province.
Hydrologic conditions that may be inferred and that are easily discernible from this type of setting include: excessive evapotranspiration, low water-table gradient, water table near land surface, thin soils, ground-water movement being almost inappreciable, and the zone of movement being almost limited to a thin zone that includes the contact between the soil and rock, inappreciable ground-water discharge to streams leading, in turn, to a low base flow in streams, low drainage density, and subsurface water relatively high in dissolved mineral matter.
Evaluation of the hydrogeologic setting described leads inductively into the undeveloped field of comparative hydrology, which represents a quick useful means of discerning the significance of processes and principles in particular environments. The setting reveals the significance of solution by subsurface water in developing some plains. Comparative hydrology, using the described setting and typical karst settings as examples, allows an advanced analysis of some pertinent factors.