Quantitative analysis of fault and fracture systems and their impact on groundwater flow in Irish bedrock aquifers

John Paul Moore, John Walsh, Tom Manzocchi, Tally Hunter-Williams, Ulrich Ofterdinger

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Fault and fracture systems are the most important store and pathway for groundwater in Ireland’s bedrock aquifers, either directly as conductive flow structures, or indirectly as the locus for the development of dolomitised limestone and karst. This article presents the preliminary results of a study involving the quantitative analysis of fault and fracture systems in the broad range of Irish bedrock types and a consideration of their impact on groundwater flow. The principal aims of the project are to develop generic conceptual models for different fault/fracture systems in different lithologies and at different depths, and to link them to observed groundwater behaviour. Here we briefly describe the geometrical characteristics of the main post-Devonian fault/fracture systems controlling groundwater flow from field observations at outcrops, quarries and mines. The structures range from Lower Carboniferous normal faults through to Variscan-related faults and veins, with the most recent structures including Tertiary strike-slip faults and ubiquitous uplift-related joint systems. The geometrical characteristics of different fault/fracture systems combined with observations of groundwater behaviour in both quarry and mine localities, can be linked to general flow and transport conceptualisations of Irish fractured bedrock. Most importantly they also provide a basis for relating groundwater flow to particular fault/fracture systems and their expression with depth and within different lithological sequences, as well as their regional variability.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event57th Irish Geoscience Research Meeting - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 28 Feb 201402 Mar 2014


Conference57th Irish Geoscience Research Meeting


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