Topographical, structural and geophysical characterization of fracture zones: implications for groundwater flow and vulnerability

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Title: Topographical, structural and geophysical characterization of fracture zones: implications for groundwater flow and vulnerability
Author: Lipponen, Annukka
Publisher: Finnish Environment Institute
Date: 2006
Language: en
Belongs to series: Monographs of the Boreal Environment Research 25
ISBN: 952-11-2346-X
ISSN: 1796-1661
Abstract: The main objective of this study is to evaluate selected geophysical, structural and topographic methods on regional, local, and tunnel and borehole scales, as indicators of the properties of fracture zones or fractures relevant to groundwater flow. Such information serves, for example, groundwater exploration and prediction of the risk of groundwater inflow in underground construction. This study aims to address how the features detected by these methods link to groundwater flow in qualitative and semi-quantitative terms and how well the methods reveal properties of fracturing affecting groundwater flow in the studied sites. The investigated areas are: (1) the Päijänne Tunnel for water-conveyance whose study serves as a verification of structures identified on regional and local scales; (2) the Oitti fuel spill site, to telescope across scales and compare geometries of structural assessment; and (3) Leppävirta, where fracturing and hydrogeological environment have been studied on the scale of a drilled well.The methods applied in this study include: the interpretation of lineaments from topographic data and their comparison with aeromagnetic data; the analysis of geological structures mapped in the Päijänne Tunnel; borehole video surveying; groundwater inflow measurements; groundwater level observations; and information on the tunnel's deterioration as demonstrated by block falls. The study combined geological and geotechnical information on relevant factors governing groundwater inflow into a tunnel and indicators of fracturing, as well as environmental datasets as overlays for spatial analysis using GIS. Geophysical borehole logging and fluid logging were used in Leppävirta to compare the responses of different methods to fracturing and other geological features on the scale of a drilled well.Results from some of the geophysical measurements of boreholes were affected by the large diameter (gamma radiation) or uneven surface (caliper) of these structures. However, different anomalies indicating more fractured upper part of the bedrock traversed by well HN4 in Leppävirta suggest that several methods can be used for detecting fracturing.Fracture trends appear to align similarly on different scales in the zone of the Päijänne Tunnel. For example, similarities of patterns were found between the regional magnetic trends, correlating with orientations of topographic lineaments interpreted as expressions of fracture zones. The same structural orientations as those of the larger structures on local or regional scales were observed in the tunnel, even though a match could not be made in every case. The size and orientation of the observation space (patch of terrain at the surface, tunnel section, or borehole), the characterization method, with its typical sensitivity, and the characteristics of the location, influence the identification of the fracture pattern. Through due consideration of the influence of the sampling geometry and by utilizing complementary fracture characterization methods in tandem, some of the complexities of the relationship between fracturing and groundwater flow can be addressed.The flow connections demonstrated by the response of the groundwater level in monitoring wells to pressure decrease in the tunnel and the transport of MTBE through fractures in bedrock in Oitti, high­light the importance of protecting the tunnel water from a risk of contamination. In general, the largest values of drawdown occurred in monitoring wells closest to the tunnel and/or close to the topographically interpreted fracture zones. It seems that, to some degree, the rate of inflow shows a positive correlation with the level of reinforcement, as both are connected with the fracturing in the bedrock.The following geological features increased the vulnerability of tunnel sections to pollution, especially when several factors affected the same locations: (1) fractured bedrock, particularly with associated groundwater inflow; (2) thin or permeable overburden above fractured rock; (3) a hydraulically conductive layer underneath the surface soil; and (4) a relatively thin bedrock roof above the tunnel. The observed anisotropy of the geological media should ideally be taken into account in the assessment of vulnerability of tunnel sections and eventually for directing protective measures.
Subject: tunnelit

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