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Characteristics of hydraulic conductivity in mountain block systems and its effects on mountain block recharge: Insights from field investigation and numerical modeling

Abstract : The process wherein groundwater flowing from mountain bedrock into lowland and adjacent alluvial aquifers, known as mountain-block recharge (MBR), is found across various climatic and geological settings. An understanding of the potential groundwater flow paths in mountain block systems is necessary for comprehending MBR spatial distribution. However, poorly characterized mountain block hydraulic properties, and especially a lack of direct measurements of hydraulic conductivity (K) at depths >200 m, limit the characterization and quantifications of the MBR processes. In this study, we analyze hydraulic data set, namely 555 in-situ K measurements at various depths from two borehole sections extending from mountain block to mountain front in a potential disposal site for high-level radioactive waste. The K dataset was categorized into two groups: one for bedrock and another for fault zones, which was further classified into fault core K, damage zone K, and general fault zone K. Using a permeability conceptual model and multiple scenarios numerical modelling, this study examined the potential flow paths of MBR processes, mainly focusing on the characteristics of K in bedrocks and the hydraulic role of fault zones in mountain block systems. The distribution of Bedrock K supports the assumption of decreased trend with depth. A logarithmic fit through Bedrock K and depth pairs resulted in Log(K) = -1.62*Log(z) - 6.52, with low predictive power. This study illustrated the localized effects and spatially variable roles of fault zones in MBR within this particular hydrogeological configuration in Beishan, China. Our results provide insights into the MBR process in crystalline mountain block systems. Additionally, the hydraulic conductivity presented here provides data on the subsurface properties of mountain block systems in a crystalline area, and further facilitates the characterization and quantification of mountain-block recharge.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, July 13, 2022 - 10:04:05 AM
Last modification on : Friday, September 2, 2022 - 9:37:38 AM

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Yunmei Fu, Yanhui Dong, Liheng Wang, Olivier Bour, Maria V Klepikova, et al.. Characteristics of hydraulic conductivity in mountain block systems and its effects on mountain block recharge: Insights from field investigation and numerical modeling. Journal of Hydrology, Elsevier, 2022, 612 (Part B), pp.128184. ⟨10.1016/j.jhydrol.2022.128184⟩. ⟨insu-03722058⟩

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