Sayre, Albert N. Formerly, Groundwater Geology Division, Behre Dolbear and Company, New York, New York.
Linsley, Ray K. Department of Civil Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California.
Last reviewed:December 2019
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The upper surface of the zone of saturation in permeable rocks not confined by impermeable rocks. It may also be defined as the surface underground at which the water is at atmospheric pressure. Saturated rock may extend a little above this level, but the water in it is held up above the water table by capillarity and is under less than atmospheric pressure; therefore, it is the lower part of the capillary fringe and is not free to flow into a well by gravity. Below the water table, water is free to move under the influence of gravity. The position of the water table is shown by the level at which water stands in wells penetrating an unconfined water-bearing formation.
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