potentiometric surface

[ pə-tĕn′shē-ə-mĕtrĭk ]

A hypothetical surface representing the level to which groundwater would rise if not trapped in a confined aquifer (an aquifer in which the water is under pressure because of an impermeable layer above it that keeps it from seeking its level). The potentiometric surface is equivalent to the water table in an unconfined aquifer. See illustration at artesian well.

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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.