An Artesian well is a deep drilled well through which water is forced upward under its own pressure.

The water in an artesian well flows from an aquifer. The geological conditions necessary for an artesian well are an inclined aquifer sandwiched between impervious rock layers above and below that trap water in it. Water enters the exposed edge of the aquifer at a high elevation and percolates downward through interconnected pore spaces. The water held in these spaces is under pressure because of the weight of water in the portion of the aquifer above it. If a well is drilled from the land surface through the overlying impervious layer into the aquifer, the pressure will cause the water to rise in the well. In areas where the slope of the aquifer is great enough, the pressure will drive the water above ground level forming a spectacular, permanent fountain.
Artesian springs occur in a similar fashion when faults or cracks in the overlying impervious layer allow water to flow upward. Water from an artesian well or spring is usually cold and free of organic contaminants, making it desirable for drinking.

In North America, the Dakota sandstone provides aquifers for an artesian system that underlies parts of the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, and Saskatchewan and supplies great quantities of water to the dry Great Plains region. Many East Coast cities derive their water supplies from aquifers that are exposed along the edge of the Piedmont and dip downward toward the Atlantic coast. The largest artesian system in the world underlies nearly all of East and South Australia. Other important artesian systems serve London, Paris, and East Algeria.