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Groundwater sources and geochemical processes in a crystalline fault aquifer

Abstract : The origin of water flowing in faults and fractures at great depth is poorly known in crystalline media.This paper describes a field study designed to characterize the geochemical compartmentalization of adeep aquifer system constituted by a graben structure where a permeable fault zone was identified. Analysesof the major chemical elements, trace elements, dissolved gases and stable water isotopes reveal theorigin of dissolved components for each permeable domain and provide information on various watersources involved during different seasonal regimes. The geochemical response induced by performinga pumping test in the fault-zone is examined, in order to quantify mixing processes and contributionof different permeable domains to the flow. Reactive processes enhanced by the pumped fluxes are alsoidentified and discussed.The fault zone presents different geochemical responses related to changes in hydraulic regime. Theyare interpreted as different water sources related to various permeable structures within the aquifer.During the low water regime, results suggest mixing of recent water with a clear contribution of olderwater of inter-glacial origin (recharge temperature around 7 C), suggesting the involvement of watertrapped in a local low-permeability matrix domain or the contribution of large scale circulation loops.During the high water level period, due to inversion of the hydraulic gradient between the major permeablefault zone and its surrounding domains, modern water predominantly flows down to the deep bedrockand ensures recharge at a local scale within the graben.Pumping in a permeable fault zone induces hydraulic connections with storage-reservoirs. The overlaidregolith domain ensures part of the flow rate for long term pumping (around 20% in the present case).During late-time pumping, orthogonal fluxes coming from the fractured domains surrounding the majorfault zone are dominant. Storage in the connected fracture network within the graben structure mainlyensures the main part of the flow rate (80% in the present case). Reactive processes are induced by mixingof water from different sources and transfer conditions. A specific approach is applied to quantify thereaction rate involved along the pumping time. Autotrophic denitrification coupled with iron mineralsoxidation is highlighted and water rock interaction is clearly enhanced by the flux changes induced bypumping.
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Contributor : Isabelle Dubigeon <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, December 17, 2014 - 11:20:39 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, June 3, 2020 - 1:16:02 PM

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Clément Roques, Luc Aquilina, Olivier Bour, Jean-Christophe Maréchal, Benoît Dewandel, et al.. Groundwater sources and geochemical processes in a crystalline fault aquifer. Journal of Hydrology, Elsevier, 2014, 519, part D, pp.3110-3128. ⟨10.1016/j.jhydrol.2014.10.052⟩. ⟨insu-01096321⟩

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