Structural controls on groundwater flow in a fractured bedrock aquifer underlying an agricultural region of northwestern New Brunswick, Canada.

DesRoches, A., Danielescu, S., and Butler, K. (2014). "Structural controls on groundwater flow in a fractured bedrock aquifer underlying an agricultural region of northwestern New Brunswick, Canada.", Hydrogeology Journal, 22(5), pp. 1067-1086. doi : 10.1007/s10040-014-1134-0  Access to full text

Abstract

A hydrogeological study was conducted in northwestern New Brunswick, Canada, to improve the predictability of fracture-dominated groundwater flow within folded bedrock composed of fine-grained turbidites. Borehole televiewer logging and outcrop mapping, integrated with hydraulic packer tests revealed enhanced hydraulic conductivity associated with northeasterly striking bedding-plane fractures formed during folding and flexural slip. These fractures impart azimuthal anisotropy to the aquifer because of moderately dipping fold limbs. High-angle fractures form a well-developed non-stratabound network, comprising two open fracture sets striking NNE parallel to the current direction of principal stress, and WNW parallel to the direction of principal stress that dominated during the Acadian orogeny. The subset of fractures showing significant oxidation, deemed most important to the groundwater flow system, is dominated by bedding-plane and high-angle fractures striking near-parallel to the maximum principal stress direction, resulting in extensional opening and enhanced hydraulic conductivities. An equivalent porous media model, incorporating anisotropy and varying hydraulic conductivity with depth, indicates that horizontal flow dominates the aquifer with relatively minor exchange between different model layers. These findings have implications for understanding flow directions in the Black Brook Watershed and elsewhere in the Matapédia Basin where fractures formed under similar stress conditions.

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