Characterizing a faulted aquifer by field testing and numerical simulation

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Authors: Allen, DM; Michel, FA
Year: 1999
Journal: Ground Water 37: 718-728   Article Link (DOI)  PubMed
Title: Characterizing a faulted aquifer by field testing and numerical simulation
Abstract: Faulted aquifers constitute one of the most complex geological environments for analysis and interpretation of hydraulic test data because of the inherent ability of faults to act not only as highly transmissive zones but also as hydraulic barriers. Previous studies of the fractured carbonate aquifer at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, characterized the flow regime as predominantly linear, but with limited radial nature, and undertook to analyze constant discharge test data using both radial and linear pow models. When used as direct input to a numerical model, the hydraulic parameters, calculated directly from hydraulic test data, were inappropriate and resulted in a poorly calibrated model. While our interpretation of the faulted aquifer remains linear-radial in nature, parameter estimation by numerical simulation highlighted the presence of hydraulic barriers associated with the faults. These barriers are not readily apparent in the constant discharge test data and act to modify the hydraulic test curves at early to mid time, leading to incorrect estimates of the hydraulic parameters. This paper describes the conceptual model and the numerical approach, and demonstrates the importance of using transient simulations for model calibration.
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