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Traditional and innovative methods applied to a crystalline aquifer for characterizing fault zone hydrology at different scales

Abstract : Crystalline rocks aquifers are difficult to characterize since flow is mainly localized in few fractures or faults. In particular, the geometry of the main flow paths and the connections of the aquifer with the sub-surface are often poorly constrained. Here, we present results from different geophysical and hydraulic methods to quantify fault zone hydrology of a crystalline confined aquifer (Ploemeur, French Brittany). This outstandingly productive crystalline rock aquifer is exploited at a rate of about 10 6 m3 per year since 1991. The pumping site is located at the intersection of two main structures: the contact zone between granite roof and overlying micaschists, and a steeply dipping fault striking North 20°, with combined dextral strike-slip and normal components. Core samples and borehole optical imagery reveals that the contact zone at the granite roof consists of alternating deformed granitic sheets and enclaves of micaschists, pegmatite and aplite dykes, as well as quartz veins. Locally, this contact is marked by mylonites and pegmatite-bearing breccias that are often but not systematically associated with major borehole inflows. Other significant inflows are localized within single fractures independently of the lithologies encountered. At the borehole scale the structural and hydraulic properties of the aquifer are thus highly variable. At the site scale - typically a kilometer squared - the water levels are monitored in 22 boreholes, 100 meters deep in average. The connectivity of the main flow paths and the hydraulic properties are relatively well constrained and quantified thanks to cross-borehole flowmeter tests and traditional pumping tests. In complement, long-base tiltmeters monitoring and ground-surface leveling allows to monitor sub-surface deformation. It provides a quantification of the hydro-mechanical properties of the aquifer and better constraints about the geometry of the main fault zone. Surprisingly, the storage coefficient of the confined aquifer is relatively high, in agreement with ground-surface deformation measurements that suggest a relativity high compressibility of the fault zone. At larger scale, we show through a high-resolution gravimetric survey that the highly fractured contact between granite and micaschists, which constitutes the main path for groundwater flow, is a gently dipping structure. A 3D gravimetric model confirms also the presence of sub-vertical faults that may constitute important drains for the aquifer recharge. In addition, groundwater temperature monitoring allows to shows that the main water supply comes from a depth of at least 300 meters. Such a depth in a low relief region involves relatively deep groundwater circulation that can be achieved only thanks to major permeable fault zone. This field example shows the advantages and limitations of some traditional and innovative methods to characterize fault zone hydrology in crystalline bedrock aquifers.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 3:15:47 PM
Last modification on : Friday, August 5, 2022 - 2:54:00 PM


  • HAL Id : insu-00667864, version 1


Olivier Bour, Sébastien Ruelleu, Tanguy Le Borgne, F. Boudin, Frédérique Moreau, et al.. Traditional and innovative methods applied to a crystalline aquifer for characterizing fault zone hydrology at different scales. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2011, Dec 2011, San Francisco, Californie, United States. pp.H12A-05. ⟨insu-00667864⟩



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