Knowledge of groundwater flow/mass transport, in poorly productive aquifers which underlie over 65% of the island of Ireland, is necessary for effective management of catchment water quality and aquatic ecology. This research focuses on a fractured low-grade Ordovician/Silurian greywacke sequence which underlies approximately 25% of the northern half of Ireland. Knowledge of the unit’s hydrogeological properties remain largely restricted to localised single well open hole “transmissivity” values. Current hydrogeological conceptual models of the Greywacke view the bulk of groundwater flowing through fractures in an otherwise impermeable bedrock mass.
Core analysis permits fracture characterisation, although not all identified fractures may be involved in groundwater flow. Traditional in-situ hydraulic characterisation relies on cumbersome techniques such as packer testing or geophysical borehole logging (e.g. flowmeters). Queen’s University Belfast is currently carrying out hydraulic characterization of 16 boreholes at its Greywacke Hydrogeological Research Site at Mount Stewart, Northern Ireland.
Development of dye dilution methods, using a recently-developed downhole fluorometer, provided a portable, user-friendly, and inexpensive means of detecting hydraulically active intervals in open boreholes. Measurements in a 55m deep hole, three days following fluorescent dye injection, demonstrated the ability of the technique to detect two discrete hydraulically active intervals corresponding to zones identified by caliper and heat-pulse flowmeter logs. High resolution acoustic televiewer logs revealed the zones to correspond to two steeply dipping fractured intervals. Results suggest the rock can have effective porosities of the order of 0.1%.
Study findings demonstrate dye dilution’s utility in characterizing groundwater flow in fractured aquifers. Tests on remaining holes will be completed at different times following injection to identify less permeable fractures and develop an improved understanding of the structural controls on groundwater flow in the uppermost metres of competent bedrock.
|Publication status||Published - 27 Sep 2011|
|Event||National Groundwater Association Focus Conference on Fractured Rock and Eastern Groundwater Regional Issues 2011 - Burlington, VT, United States|
Duration: 26 Sep 2011 → 27 Sep 2011
|Conference||National Groundwater Association Focus Conference on Fractured Rock and Eastern Groundwater Regional Issues 2011|
|Period||26/09/2011 → 27/09/2011|