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Field mapping and fracture characterization techniques predict groundwater preferential flow paths in fractured bedrock aquifers, Nashoba Terrane, MA

TitleField mapping and fracture characterization techniques predict groundwater preferential flow paths in fractured bedrock aquifers, Nashoba Terrane, MA
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsManda, AK, Mabee, SB, Hubbs, SA
Conference NameAGU Fall Conference, 2005
EditionSpecial supplement
Date Published2005/12/01/
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union : Washington, DC, United States
Conference LocationUnited States
ISBN Number00963941
Keywords#StaffPubs, aquifers, BEDROCK, characterization, fractured materials, fractures, ground water, Hydrogeology 21, mapping, massachusetts, Middlesex County Massachusetts, movement, Nashoba terrane, patterns, preferential flow, recharge, reservoir properties, substrates, United States

A study examining the relationship between fracture characteristics and groundwater was undertaken in the crystalline Nashoba Terrane of eastern Massachusetts. The Nashoba Terrane, a fault-bounded, highly deformed sliver of Paleozoic igneous and metamorphic rocks, covers an area of 600 sq km about 50 km northwest of Boston. Increasing industrial development coupled with population growth place significant pressure on developers to provide sufficient potable water for the population. To aid water development and management, this study examined fracture characteristics at regional, quadrangle and wellfield scales. The regional-scale work involved recording over 4000 structural measurements from 80 outcrops in the terrane. Fracture information recorded at each data station included strike and dip, trace length, spacing, termination, and fracture type. Preliminary results show that hydrostructural domains can be defined from combinations of fracture characterization and rock types. These domains are used to conceptualize general groundwater flow patterns in the subsurface: steeply dipping fractures, such as partings parallel to foliation enhance recharge potential and impose strong flow anisotropy. A different character is observed if steeply dipping joints intersect sheeting joints. In this instance, both recharge and lateral flow will be enhanced and flow anisotropy will be reduced. The distribution and intensity of particular fracture sets varies as a function of rock type, proximity to major features and local stress states. Partings parallel to foliation are prevalent in gneissic rocks whereas sheeting joints are more common in igneous rocks. Common joints are the most prevalent fractures, present in all rock types across the entire terrane. Quadrangle and wellfield scale data can be used to validate the regional-scale conceptual models. A comprehensive well-yield database was created to test the proposed models. Over 500 water wells in the terrane were evaluated to determine regions with high and low yield. The findings were evaluated in terms of location with respect to newly defined hydrostructural domain maps at both regional and quadrangle scales. Application of these hydrostructural domains in field studies can be useful not only in characterizing fracture intensity and distribution, but can shed more light on the potential of intersecting subsurface zones that could be exploited for economic gain.

Short TitleEos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
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