Summary
An artesian well is a well that brings groundwater to the surface without pumping because it is under pressure within a body of rock and/or sediment known as an aquifer. When trapped water in an aquifer is surrounded by layers of impermeable rock or clay, which apply positive pressure to the water, it is known as an artesian aquifer. If a well were to be sunk into an artesian aquifer, water in the well-pipe would rise to a height corresponding to the point where hydrostatic equilibrium is reached. A well drilled into such an aquifer is called an artesian well. If water reaches the ground surface under the natural pressure of the aquifer, the well is termed a flowing artesian well. Fossil water aquifers can also be artesian if they are under sufficient pressure from the surrounding rocks, similar to how many newly tapped oil wells are pressurized. Not all aquifers are artesian (i.e., water table aquifers occur where the groundwater level at the top of the aquifer is at equilibrium with atmospheric pressure). The recharging of aquifers happens when the water table at its recharge zone is at a higher elevation than the head of the well. The first mechanically accurate explanation for artesian wells was given by Al-Biruni. Artesian wells were named after the former province of Artois in France, where many artesian wells were drilled by Carthusian monks from 1126.
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