The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Multi-scale hydrogeologic characterization of a leaky till-mantled fractured bedrock aquifer system

TitleMulti-scale hydrogeologic characterization of a leaky till-mantled fractured bedrock aquifer system
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsLukas WG, Degroot DJ, Ostendorf DW, Hinlein ES
JournalCanadian Geotechnical Journal
Start Page1945
Date Published05/2015
Keywordsaquifer, aquifère, conductivité hydraulique, fractured bedrock, hydraulic conductivity, substratum fracturé, till, transmissivité, transmissivity

The paper presents hydrogeologic properties for a leaky till–mantled fractured bedrock aquifer system based on geophysical and hydraulic tests performed at a drumlin located in northeastern Massachusetts, USA. The site profile consists of a fractured bedrock aquifer overlain by a 30 m thick unweathered, coarse-grained till aquitard. Steady state, decadal scale, hydraulics varied little until seasonal irrigation pumping was initiated in recent years, causing a substantial annual drawdown in the aquifer and leakage from the overlying till. High frequency hydraulic head data sets collected in monitoring wells record the hydraulic response to the irrigation pumping. These data sets, together with results from small scale slug and purge tests performed in monitoring wells, are used to characterize the hydrogeologic behavior of this groundwater system. Geophysical logging performed in bedrock wells confirmed the presence of numerous flowing fractures. The large-scale continuum analysis of the fractured bedrock aquifer response to the irrigation pumping yields transmissivity values consistent with those determined from the small-scale, short-term purge test results. The low hydraulic conductivity till has a significant impact on the drawdown behavior of the fractured bedrock aquifer. Calibrated values from the collective data sets and analyses result in the following properties for the 30 m thick unweathered till: hydraulic conductivity K′ = 7.2 × 10−9 m/s, transmissivity T′ = 2.3 × 10−8 m2/s, and storativity S′ = 2.7 × 10−4, and for the underlying fractured bedrock aquifer: T = 6.5 × 10−6 m2/s with an average fracture aperture of 46 μm and hydraulic conductivity Kf = 1.3 × 10−3 m/s. These results should describe similar unweathered coarse-grained till–mantled fractured bedrock aquifer systems and provide useful data for preliminary analyses prior to any site-specific investigations.