In hydrology, a rock layer or sequence that contains water and releases it in appreciable amounts. The rocks contain water-filled pores that, when connected, allow water to flow through their matrix. A confined aquifer is overlain by a rock layer that does not transmit water in any appreciable amount or that is impermeable. There probably are few truly confined aquifers. In an unconfined aquifer the upper surface (water table) is open to the atmosphere through permeable overlying material. An aquifer also may be called a water-bearing stratum, lens, or zone.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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