aquifer

noun
aqui·​fer | \ ˈa-kwə-fər How to pronounce aquifer (audio) , ˈä-\

Definition of aquifer

: a water-bearing stratum of permeable rock, sand, or gravel

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Other Words from aquifer

aquiferous \ a-​ˈkwi-​fə-​rəs How to pronounce aquiferous (audio) , ä-​ \ adjective

Aquifer and Agriculture

The vast but relatively shallow Ogallala Aquifer lies beneath the Great Plains, under portions of eight states. Its thickness ranges from a few feet to more than a thousand feet. The Ogallala yields about 30 percent of the nation's groundwater used for irrigation in agriculture, and provides drinking water for most of the people within the area. But for many years more water has been extracted from the Ogallala than has been returned, and the situation today is of great concern.

Examples of aquifer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The Wagners and Kinnards live in one of many U.S. regions where the interests of the agricultural economy are colliding with those of residents relying on aquifers. Jesse Newman And Patrick Mcgroarty, WSJ, "Farms, More Productive Than Ever, Are Poisoning Drinking Water in Rural America," 18 Jan. 2019 Because of the continuing drought, the ground under Tehran has started sinking as underground aquifers dry up. Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times, "Iranians Prayed for Rain, but Were Covered in Snow," 28 Jan. 2018 What's certain, officials said, is that the aquifer that the municipalities rely on for well water is showing signs of depletion. Linda Girardi, Aurora Beacon-News, "Oswego to do further study of Lake Michigan water option," 20 Apr. 2018 It was once celebrated as one of the largest freshwater aquifers west of the Mississippi River, but the level in certain wells had fallen significantly. Russell Gold, WSJ, "Harvard Quietly Amasses California Vineyards—and the Water Underneath," 10 Dec. 2018 This week, Reuters reported that both Albemarle and SQM have accused each other of overdrawing brine from the Atacama's underground aquifers. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Lithium giants feud over competition, brine in Chile’s Atacama Desert," 21 Oct. 2018 Roberta Jaffe, here with her husband, Steve Gliessman, worries Harvard could deplete the aquifer. Russell Gold, WSJ, "Harvard Quietly Amasses California Vineyards—and the Water Underneath," 10 Dec. 2018 This supposes that hydrogen will be synthesized at centralized facilities using methane reformation, outfitted with a carbon capture system that could store any excess carbon in underwater aquifers off the coast of England. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Natural gas firms have a proposal to convert home heating to hydrogen," 25 Nov. 2018 In this new water-war battlefront, the New Mexico land commissioner argues that the rule of capture should not allow one state to negatively impact another’s aquifer. Jay Root, star-telegram, "New Mexico official: Texans are 'stealing' water and selling it back for fracking," 7 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aquifer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of aquifer

1897, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for aquifer

borrowed from French aquifère "water-bearing," from aqui- (from Latin aqua "water" + -i- -i-) + -fère "bearing" — more at aqua, -fer

Note: Term introduced into English by the geologist William Harmon Norton (1856-1944) in "Artesian Wells of Iowa," Iowa Geological Survey, vol. 6, Report on Lead, Zinc, Artesian Wells, etc. (Des Moines, 1897), p. 130: "The sand represents the permeable water-bearing layer, the aquifer, to revive a term of Arago's, and its outcrop between the basin rims the area of supply." "Arago" is the French physicist François Arago (1786-1853), whose essay "Sur les puits forés, connus sous le nom de puits artésiens, des fontaines artésiennes, ou de fontaines jaillissants" (Bureau des Longitudes, Annuaire pour l'an 1835 [Paris, 1834], pp. 181-258, is cited earlier in Norton's paper. As noted by Alfred Clebsch ("Analysis and Critique of 'Aquifers, Ground-Water Bodies, and Hydrophers' by C.V. Theis," Selected Contributions to Ground-Water Hydrology by C.V. Theis, and a Review of His Life and Work [U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2415] [Denver, 1994], pp. 39-43), Norton is not strictly speaking "reviving" anything used by Arago, who only uses aquifère as an adjective in the collocations nappe aquifère and couche aquifère (both meaning approximately "water-bearing layer"). Note that in an English translation of Arago's article ("On Springs, Artesian Wells, and Spouting Fountains," Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, vol. 18, no. 36 [April, 1835] there is no direct equivalent of aquifère, as couches aquifères is rendered by "water bearing beds" and nappe aquifère as simply "water."

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Last Updated

17 Mar 2019

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The first known use of aquifer was in 1897

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More Definitions for aquifer

aquifer

noun

English Language Learners Definition of aquifer

technical : a layer of rock or sand that can absorb and hold water

More from Merriam-Webster on aquifer

Nglish: Translation of aquifer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about aquifer

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