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A field study (Massachusetts, USA) of the factors controlling the depth of groundwater flow systems in crystalline fractured-rock terrain

TitleA field study (Massachusetts, USA) of the factors controlling the depth of groundwater flow systems in crystalline fractured-rock terrain
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsBoutt, DF, Diggins, P, Mabee, SB
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Pagination1839 - 1854
Date Published2010/12/01/
PublisherSpringer : Berlin - Heidelberg, Germany
ISBN Number1431217414350157
Keywords#StaffPubs, aquifers, boreholes, crystalline rocks, eastern Massachusetts, fractured materials, fractures, ground water, hydraulic conductivity, Hydrogeology 21, massachusetts, Nashoba terrane, permeability, porosity, preferential flow, shallow-water environment, substrates, United States

Groundwater movement and availability in crystalline and metamorphosed rocks is dominated by the secondary porosity generated through fracturing. The distributions of fractures and fracture zones determine permeable pathways and the productivity of these rocks. Controls on how these distributions vary with depth in the shallow subsurface (<300 m) and their resulting influence on groundwater flow is not well understood. The results of a subsurface study in the Nashoba and Avalon terranes of eastern Massachusetts (USA), which is a region experiencing expanded use of the fractured bedrock as a potable-supply aquifer, are presented. The study logged the distribution of fractures in 17 boreholes, identified flowing fractures, and hydraulically characterized the rock mass intersecting the boreholes. Of all fractures encountered, 2.5% are hydraulically active. Boreholes show decreasing fracture frequency up to 300 m depth, with hydraulically active fractures showing a similar trend; this restricts topographically driven flow. Borehole temperature profiles corroborate this, with minimal hydrologically altered flow observed in the profiles below 100 m. Results from this study suggest that active flow systems in these geologic settings are shallow and that fracture permeability outside of the influence of large-scale structures will follow a decreasing trend with depth. Copyright 2010 Springer-Verlag

Short TitleHydrogeology Journal
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