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water that has penetrated the earth's surface

[Image: Groundwater Animation (83K)]
Animation by: Bramer

Groundwater is all the water that has penetrated the earth's surface and is found in one of two soil layers. The one nearest the surface is the "zone of aeration", where gaps between soil are filled with both air and water. Below this layer is the "zone of saturation", where the gaps are filled with water. The water table is the boundary between these two layers. As the amount of groundwater water increases or decreases, the water table rises or falls accordingly. When the entire area below the ground is saturated, flooding occurs because all subsequent precipitation is forced to remain on the surface.

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Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.