The lower Tennessee River flows in a broad valley deeply underlain by fluviatile sediments. The flanking highlands possess only moderate elevation.Ground water migrating from the highlands toward the river enters confined aquifers and artesian effects occurs in, (1) the deeply buried bedrock, and (2) the superjacent flood plain sediments, these two aquifers possessing artesian pressures which, while related, differ in magnitude and manner of development. The causes of these artesian conditions are lithologic and arise from the normal river sedimentation; for this reason it is probable that similar artesian phenomena are more common than has previously been realized, and may exist in the lower reaches of many large rivers. It is known that the conditions responsible for the artesian effects in the lower Tennessee Valley are duplicated in the adjacent parts of the lower valleys of the Cumberland and Ohio rivers.

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