What is an artesian well

Artesian well

A artesian well is a well in a depression below the water table in which water is under overpressure. This “hydraulic potential” is so high that the water rises by itself, i.e. without pumping, to the surface of the earth or higher. In contrast to an artesian spring, an artesian well is always artificial, as it was created through a borehole or a shaft. The fountain is named after the Artesien (French: Artois) landscape in northern France, where such a system was first created in 1126.

An artesian well requires confined groundwater. Such is the case when a water-bearing rock layer (an aquifer) is sealed upwards by a water-impermeable rock layer and at the same time the large-scale geological structure of the aquifer enables the build-up of hydrostatic pressure (for example in a bowl-shaped depression or between sloping rock layers). If you drill or dig an aquifer with confined groundwater, the groundwater rises according to the principle of communicating vessels in the borehole or in the shaft up to the level of the free (unconstrained) groundwater surface in the water-bearing layer. If this level is higher than the surface of the earth at the well, the groundwater splashes upwards from the underground under pressure. Artesian wells are therefore only possible in landscape depressions.


Jacob, C. E: Drawdown test to determine effective radius of artesian well. In: Transactions, American Society of Civil Engineers, Number 112 (1947), pp. 1047-1070

Nuria Segovia, Rosa Maria Barragan, Enrique Tello, Ruth Alfaro and Manuel Mena: Geochemical Characteristics and 222Rn Measurements at Cuitzeo Basin (Mexico) Thermal Springs and Artesian Wells, World Geothermal Congress (2005)

Rorabaugh, M.: Graphical and theoretical analysis of step-drawdown test of artesian wells. In: Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers, number 79 (1953), pp. 1-23

Skiba, Piotr A.: Artesian Flow Testing of the Geothermal Production Wells Wen-1 and Wen-2, Honey Lake Hybrid Power Plant Project, California, Geothermal Resources Council Transactions (1985)

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last edited April 2020