Kassidy Ulmer

Years participated in RESESS: 2016


An Overview

Major: Geoscience

Academic Affiliation: Pennsylvania State University


After experiencing the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, Kassidy became interested in natural hazards as well as the tectonic processes responsible for creating the mountains around her. She is majoring in geosciences at the Pennsylvania State University. Her RESESS research project consisted of identifying and quantifying variations in hydrology field data collection on the East River near Crested Butte, CO. The project provides a better picture of groundwater behavior and potential outcomes of groundwater contamination and floods.


Identifying Variations in Hydraulic Conductivity on the East River at Crested Butte, CO

Slug tests are a widely used method to measure saturated hydraulic conductivity, or how easily water flows through an aquifer, by perturbing the piezometric surface and measuring the time the local groundwater table takes to re-equilibrate. Saturated hydraulic conductivity is crucial to calculating the speed and direction of groundwater movement. Therefore, it is important to document data variance from in situ slug tests. This study addresses two potential sources of data variability: different users and different types of slug used. To test for user variability, two individuals slugged the same six wells with water multiple times at a stream meander on the East River near Crested Butte, CO. To test for variations in type of slug test, multiple water and metal slug tests were performed at a single well in the same meander. The distributions of hydraulic conductivities of each test were then tested for variance using both the Kruskal–Wallis test and the Brown–Forsythe test. When comparing the hydraulic conductivity distributions gathered by the two individuals, we found that they were statistically similar. However, we found that the two types of slug tests produced hydraulic conductivity distributions for the same well that are statistically dissimilar. In conclusion, multiple people should be able to conduct slug tests without creating any considerable variations in the resulting hydraulic conductivity values, but only a single type of slug should be used for those tests.