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J Contam Hydrol. 2018 Jul;214:75-86. doi: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2018.05.003. Epub 2018 May 17.

Improving estimates of groundwater velocity in a fractured rock borehole using hydraulic and tracer dilution methods.

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G360 Institute for Groundwater Research, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada. Electronic address:
G360 Institute for Groundwater Research, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada.


A straddle-packer system for use in boreholes in fractured rock was modified to investigate the average linear groundwater velocity (v¯f) in fractures under ambient flow conditions. This packer system allows two different tests to be conducted in the same interval between packers without redeploying the system: (1) forced gradient hydraulic tests to determine the interval transmissivity (T), and (2) borehole dilution experiments to determine the groundwater flow rate (Qt) across the test interval. The constant head step test method provides assurance that flow is Darcian when determining T for each interval and identifies the flow rate at the onset of non-Darcian flow. The critical Reynolds number method uses this flow rate to provide the number of hydraulically active fractures (N) in each interval, the average hydraulic aperture for the test interval and the effective bulk fracture porosity. The borehole dilution method provides Qt values for the interval at the time of the test, and v¯f can be estimated from Qt using the flow area derived from the hydraulic tests. The method was assessed by application to seven test intervals in a borehole 73 m deep in a densely fractured dolostone aquifer used for municipal water supply. The critical Reynolds number method identified one or two fractures in each test interval (1.1 m long), which provided v¯f values in the range of 10 to 8000 m/day. This velocity range is consistent with values reported in the literature for ambient flow in this aquifer. However, when hydraulically active fractures in each interval is identified and measured from acoustic and optical televiewer logs, the calculated v¯f values are unreasonably low as are the calculated values of the hydraulic gradient needed to provide the Qt value for each tested interval. The combination of hydraulic and dilution tests in the same interval is an improved method to obtain values of groundwater velocity in fractured rock aquifers.


Average linear groundwater velocity; Fracture aperture; Fractured rock; Hydraulic tests; Point dilution method; Straddle packers

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