Potentiometric surface

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A potentiometric surface is the imaginary plane where a given reservoir of fluid will "equalize out to" if allowed to flow. A potentiometric surface is based on hydraulic principles. For example, we know that two connected storage tanks with one full and one empty will gradually fill/drain to the same level. This is because of atmospheric pressure and gravity. This idea is heavily used in city water supplies - a tall tower containing the water supply has a great enough potentiometric surface to provide flowing water at a decent pressure to the houses it supplies.

In groundwater "potentiometric surface" is a synonym of "piezometric surface" which is an imaginary surface that defines the level to which water in a confined aquifer would rise were it completely pierced with wells.[1] If the potentiometric surface lies above the ground surface, a flowing artesian well results. Contour maps and profiles of the potentiometric surface can be prepared from the well data.


  • Earth: Portrait of a Planet; Second edition; Stephen Marshak, 2005 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc (Page 604-605)
  1. ^ Younger, Paul (2007). Groundwater in the Environment. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-4051-2143-9.