# Search in KarstBase

**preferential flow**(Keyword) returned

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[1] Fracture dissolution in the early stages of karstification under hypogene conditions is investigated using a coupled numerical model of fluid flow, heat transfer, and reactive transport. Dissolution of calcite in the H2O-CO2-CaCO3 system along a cooling flow path is investigated using both equilibrium and kinetic models. During the very early stages of fracture growth, there is a positive feedback between flow, heat transfer, and dissolution. In this stage the dissolution rate is largely controlled by the retrograde solubility of calcite, and aperture growth is relatively uniform along the fracture length. There is a period of slow continuous increase in the mass flow rate through the fracture, which is followed by an abrupt rapid increase. We refer to the time when this rapid increase occurs as the maturation time. As the flow rate continues to increase after maturation, forced convective effects lead to higher fluid temperatures in the fracture, resulting in a negative feedback that slows the rate of fracture growth. The behavior of aperture growth before the maturation time can be described by a simple ordinary differential equation. The solution of this differential equation provides an estimate of the maturation time, in terms of the initial aperture, hydraulic and thermal gradients, and the change in solubility with temperature. The behavior before maturation in two-dimensional variable aperture fractures is investigated using a simplified model. The maturation time is shown to decrease with the degree of aperture variability due to highly selective growth along preferential flow paths

Precipitation and dissolution reactions within fractures alter apertures, which in turn affects their flow and transport properties. Different aperture alteration patterns occur in different flow and reaction regimes, and they are also influenced by preferential flow resulting from spatial variations in the aperture. We consider the alteration of variable-aperture fractures in gradient reaction regimes, where fluids are in chemical equilibrium with a mineral everywhere but precipitation and dissolution are driven by solubility gradients associated with temperature variations. The temperature field is defined by a geothermal gradient corresponding to a conduction-dominated heat transfer regime. Monte Carlo simulations on computer-generated aperture fields vividly illustrate pattern formation resulting from two-way feedback between fluid flow and reactive alteration. In dissolution-controlled systems, distinct dissolution channels develop along the dominant flow direction, while elongated precipitate bodies form perpendicular to the mean flow direction in precipitation-controlled systems. Aperture variability accelerates the increase and decrease of effective transmissivity by dissolution and precipitation, respectively. The dominance of precipitation versus dissolution is determined by the angle between the mean hydraulic gradient and solubility/temperature gradient. Development of pronounced anisotropy with oriented elongate features is the key feature of aperture alteration in gradient reaction regimes. A stochastic analysis is developed, which consistently predicts general trends in the aperture field during reactive alteration, including the mean, variance, and spatial covariance structure. Our results are relevant to understanding the long-term diagenetic evolution of fractures in conduction-dominated heat transfer regimes and related problems such as emplacement of ocean bed methane hydrates.

Karst caves exhibit a wide range of hydrological and hydrochemical responses to infiltration events, due to their physical heterogeneity space and dynamic variability over time, and due to non-Gaussian inputs (rain) and outputs (discharge). This paper reviews different approaches of studying seepage water in caves, in order to understand the infiltration regimen in the non-saturated zone of karst areas. As an illustration, we describe a four-year study of the active carbonate-water system the Cueva del Agua (Granada, southern Spain) that automatically logs the discharge from a stalactite. The results indicate that: (1) the drip water regime is not seasonal, but is linked instead to slow infiltration. Sudden changes in drip water regime occur due to infiltration along preferential flow paths and the draining of water of supersaturated water from reserves in the microfissure and pore system; (2) the drip rate is not linear over time. When dripping is constant, barometric oscillation of the air is the principal factor causing a chaotic a drip flow regime. Over a short period of two to three days, a mean variation in air pressure inside the cave of 10 (±3.7) mbar causes a oscillation the drip rate of 0.5 (±0.2) mm/h. The increase air translates into an the relative thickness of the gaseous phase of the drip water at the cost of the aqueous phase, so leading to a reduction the drip rate from the stalactite.

Sequential time-step images acquired using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) show the displacement of deuterated water (D2O) by fresh water within two limestone samples characterized by a porous and permeable limestone matrix of peloids and ooids. These samples were selected because they have a macropore system representative of some parts of the eogenetic karst limestone of the Biscayne Aquifer in southeastern Florida. The macroporosity, created by the trace fossil Ophiomorpha, is principally well connected and of centimeter scale. These macropores occur in broadly continuous stratiform zones that create preferential flow la

Heterogeneity is a salient feature of every natural geological formation. In the past decades a large body of literature has focused on the effects of heterogeneity on flow and transport problems. These works have substantially improved the understanding of flow and transport phenomena but still fail to characterize many of the important features of an aquifer. Among them, preferential flows and solute paths, connectivity between two points of an aquifer, and interpretation of hydraulic and tracer tests in heterogeneous media are crucial points that need to be properly assessed to obtain accurate model predictions. In this context, the aim of this thesis is twofold:

· to improve the understanding of the effects of heterogeneity on flow and transport phenomena

· to provide new tools for characterizing aquifer heterogeneity

First, we start by theoretically and numerically examine the relationship between two indicators of flow and transport connectivity. The flow connectivity indicator used here is based on the time elapsed for hydraulic response in a pumping test (e.g., the storage coefficient estimated by the Cooper-Jacob method, Sest). Regarding transport, we select the estimated porosity from the observed breakthrough curve (Φ est) in a forced-gradient tracer test. Our results allow explaining the poor correlation between these two indicators, already observed numerically by Knudby and Carrera (2005).

Second, a geostatistical framework has been developed to delineate connectivity patterns using a limited and sparse number of measurements. The methodology allows conditioning the results to three types of data measured over different scales, namely: (a) travel times of convergent tracer tests, ta, (b) estimates of the storage coefficient from pumping tests interpreted using the Cooper-a Jacob method, S est, and (c) measurements of transmissivity point values, T. The ability of the methodology to properly delineate capture zones is assessed through estimations (i.e. ordinary cokriging) and sequential gaussian simulations based on different sets of measurements.

Third, a novel methodology for the interpretation of pumping tests in leaky aquifer systems, referred to as the double inflection point (DIP) method, is presented. The real advantage of the DIP method comes when it is applied with all the existing methods independently to a test in a heterogeneous aquifer. In this case each method yields parameter values that are weighted differently, and thus each method provides different information about the heterogeneity distribution. In particular, the combination of the DIP method and Hantush method is shown to lead to the identification of contrasts between the local transmissivity in the vicinity of the well and the equivalent transmissivity of the perturbed aquifer volume.

Fourth, the meaning of the hydraulic parameters estimated from pumping test performed in leaky aquifers is assessed numerically within a Monte Carlo framework. A synthetic pumping test is interpreted using three existing methods. The resulting estimated parameters are shown to be space dependent and vary with the interpretation method, since each method gives different emphasis to different parts of the timedrawdown data. Finally, we show that by combining the parameter estimates obtained from the different analysis procedures, information about the heterogeneity of the leaky aquifer system may be inferred.

Fifth, an unsaturated highly heterogeneous waste rock pile is modeled using a simple linear transfer function (TF) model. The calibration of the parametric model provides information on the characteristic time of the flow through the matrix and on the fraction of the water that, within each section, is channeled through the macropores. An analysis of the influence of the scale on the results is also provided showing that at large scales the behavior of the system tends to that of an equivalent matrix reservoir masking the effects of preferential flow.

Hypogene karst systems are believed to develop when water flowing upward against the geothermal gradient dissolves limestone as it cools. We present a comprehensive THC model incorporating time-evolving fluid flow, heat transfer, buoyancy effects, multi-component reactive transport and aperture/permeability change to investigate the origin of hypogene karst systems. Our model incorporates the temperature and pressure dependence of the solubility and dissolution kinetics of calcite. It also allows for rigorous representation of temperature-dependent fluid density and its influence on buoyancy forces at various stages of karstification. The model is applied to investigate karstification over geological time scales in a prototype mountain hydrologic system. In this system, a high water table maintained by mountain recharge, drives flow downward through the country rock and upward via a high-permeability fault/fracture. The pressure boundary conditions are maintained constant in time. The fluid flux through the fracture remains nearly constant even though the fracture aperture and permeability increase by dissolution, largely because the permeability of the country rock is not altered significantly due to slower dissolution rates. However, karstification by fracture dissolution is not impeded even though the fluid flux stays nearly constant. Forced and buoyant convection effects arise due to the increased permeability of the evolving fracture system. Since in reality the aperture varies significantly within the fracture plane, the initial fracture aperture is modeled as a heterogeneous random field. In such a heterogeneous aperture field, the water initially flows at a significant rate mainly through preferential flow paths connecting the relatively large aperture zones. Dissolution is more prominent at early time along these flow paths, and the aperture grows faster within these paths. With time, the aperture within small sub-regions of these preferential flow paths grows to a point where the permeability is large enough for the onset of buoyant convection. As a result, a multitude of buoyant convection cells form that take on a two-dimensional (2D) maze-like appearance, which could represent a 2D analog of the three-dimensional (3D) mazework pattern widely thought to be characteristic of hypogene cave systems. Although computational limitations limited us to 2D, we suggest that similar process interactions in a 3D network of fractures and faults could produce a 3D mazework.

Groundwater flow through a karst aquifer is prone to contamination because of the very nature of the karstified host rock: Fissures and bedding partings in the rock are enlarged by chemical dissolution over time and provide preferential flow paths, through which water is transferred rapidly and almost unfiltered from input points such as sinks and dolines to output points such as large karst springs. The enlarged fractures and bedding partings are responsible for a very heterogeneous distribution of permeability within the karst aquifer. Enlarged passages can be very conductive (1–10 m s^{−1}) but have low storage capacity. The surrounding rock is orders of magnitude less conductive (10^{−8} m s^{−1}), but can provide significant storage. This large-scale heterogeneity in conductivity makes it difficult to assess the karst aquifer properties from field studies such as borehole pumping, packer, and slug tests. Monitoring spring discharge, on the other hand, provides only an integral picture of the karst aquifer. A different approach to understanding a karst aquifer and its spatial and temporal evolution are numerical models. This field has evolved dramatically over the last decades, and is described in this article.

Preferential flow through solutionally enlarged fractures can be a significant influence on travel times and source area definition in carbonate aquifers. However, it has proven challenging to step beyond a conceptual model to implementing, parameterizing and testing an appropriate numerical model of preferential flow. Here both porous medium and preferential flow models are developed with respect to a deadly contamination of the municipal groundwater supply at Walkerton, Ontario, Canada. The preferential flow model is based on simple orthogonal fracture aperture and spacing. The models are parameterized from bore hole, gamma, flow and video logs resulting in a two order of magnitude lower effective porosity for the preferential flow model. The observed hydraulic conductivity and effective porosity are used to predict groundwater travel times using a porous medium model. These model predictions are compared to a number of independent estimates of effective porosity, including three forced gradient tracer tests. The results show that the effective porosity and hydraulic conductivity values closely match the preferential flow predictions for an equivalent fracture network of _10 m spacing of 1 mm fractures. Three tracer tests resulted in groundwater velocities of hundreds of meters per day, as predicted when an effective porosity of 0.05% was used in the groundwater model. These velocities are consistent with a compilation of 185 tracer test velocities from regional Paleozoic carbonate aquifers. The implication is that carbonate aquifers in southern Ontario are characterized by relatively low-volume dissolutionally enlarged fracture networks that dominate flow and transport. The porous matrix has large storage capacity, but contributes little to transport. Numerical models based on much higher porosities risk significantly underestimating capture zones in such aquifers. The hydraulic conductivity – effective porosity prediction framework provides a general analytical frame work for a preferential flow carbonate aquifer. Not only is the framework readily parameterized from borehole observations, but also it can be implemented in a conventional porous medium model, and critically tested using simple tracer tests.

The early stage of hypogene karstification is investigated using a coupled thermohydrochemical model of a mountain hydrologic system, in which water enters along a water table and descends to significant depth (_1 km) before ascending through a central high-permeability fracture. The model incorporates reactive alteration driven by dissolution/ precipitation of limestone in a carbonic acid system, due to both temperature- and pressuredependent solubility, and kinetics. Simulations were carried out for homogeneous and heterogeneous initial fracture aperture fields, using the FEHM (Finite Element Heat and Mass Transfer) code. Initially, retrograde solubility is the dominant mechanism of fracture aperture growth. As the fracture transmissivity increases, a critical Rayleigh number value is exceeded at some stage. Buoyant convection is then initiated and controls the evolution of the system thereafter. For an initially homogeneous fracture aperture field, deep well-organized buoyant convection rolls form. For initially heterogeneous aperture fields, preferential flow suppresses large buoyant convection rolls, although a large number of smaller rolls form. Even after the onset of buoyant convection, dissolution in the fracture is sustained along upward flow paths by retrograde solubility and by additional ‘‘mixing corrosion’’ effects closer to the surface. Aperture growth patterns in the fracture are very different from those observed in simulations of epigenic karst systems, and retain imprints of both buoyant convection and preferential flow. Both retrograde solubility and buoyant convection contribute to these differences. The paper demonstrates the potential value of coupled models as tools for understanding the evolution and behavior of hypogene karst systems.

The early stage of hypogene karstification is investigated using a coupled

thermohydrochemical model of a mountain hydrologic system, in which water enters along a

water table and descends to significant depth (1 km) before ascending through a central

high-permeability fracture. The model incorporates reactive alteration driven by dissolution/

precipitation of limestone in a carbonic acid system, due to both temperature- and pressuredependent

solubility, and kinetics. Simulations were carried out for homogeneous and

heterogeneous initial fracture aperture fields, using the FEHM (Finite Element Heat and Mass

Transfer) code. Initially, retrograde solubility is the dominant mechanism of fracture aperture

growth. As the fracture transmissivity increases, a critical Rayleigh number value is exceeded

at some stage. Buoyant convection is then initiated and controls the evolution of the system

thereafter. For an initially homogeneous fracture aperture field, deep well-organized buoyant

convection rolls form. For initially heterogeneous aperture fields, preferential flow suppresses

large buoyant convection rolls, although a large number of smaller rolls form. Even after the

onset of buoyant convection, dissolution in the fracture is sustained along upward flow paths

by retrograde solubility and by additional ‘‘mixing corrosion’’ effects closer to the surface.

Aperture growth patterns in the fracture are very different from those observed in simulations

of epigenic karst systems, and retain imprints of both buoyant convection and preferential

flow. Both retrograde solubility and buoyant convection contribute to these differences. The

paper demonstrates the potential value of coupled models as tools for understanding the

evolution and behavior of hypogene karst systems.

The early stage of hypogene karstification is investigated using a coupled thermohydrochemical model of a mountain hydrologic system, in which water enters along a water table and descends to significant depth (_1 km) before ascending through a central high-permeability fracture. The model incorporates reactive alteration driven by dissolution/ precipitation of limestone in a carbonic acid system, due to both temperature- and pressuredependent solubility, and kinetics. Simulations were carried out for homogeneous and heterogeneous initial fracture aperture fields, using the FEHM (Finite Element Heat and Mass Transfer) code. Initially, retrograde solubility is the dominant mechanism of fracture aperture growth. As the fracture transmissivity increases, a critical Rayleigh number value is exceeded at some stage. Buoyant convection is then initiated and controls the evolution of the system thereafter. For an initially homogeneous fracture aperture field, deep well-organized buoyant convection rolls form. For initially heterogeneous aperture fields, preferential flow suppresses large buoyant convection rolls, although a large number of smaller rolls form. Even after the onset of buoyant convection, dissolution in the fracture is sustained along upward flow paths by retrograde solubility and by additional ‘‘mixing corrosion’’ effects closer to the surface. Aperture growth patterns in the fracture are very different from those observed in simulations of epigenic karst systems, and retain imprints of both buoyant convection and preferential flow. Both retrograde solubility and buoyant convection contribute to these differences. The paper demonstrates the potential value of coupled models as tools for understanding the evolution and behavior of hypogene karst systems.

An efficient conveyance system for groundwater is shown to have formed in a carbonate aquifer even though it is situated in a semi-arid environment. This conveyance system comprises preferential flow pathways that developed coincident with river channels. A strong correlation between high capacity wells and proximity to higher-order river channels (i.e., within 2.5 km) is used as evidence of preferential flow pathways. Factors that contributed to development of the preferential flow paths: (i) karst development in carbonate rocks, (ii) structural exhumation of a carbonate plateau, and (iii) the requirement that the groundwater regime of the watershed has adequate capacity to convey sufficient quantities of water at the required rates across the full extent of the watershed. Recognition of these preferential pathways in proximity to river channels provides a basis to locate where high capacity wells are likely (and unlikely) and indicates that groundwater flow within the watershed is relatively rapid, consistent with flow rates representative of karstic aquifers. This understanding provides a basis for better informed decisions regarding water-resource management of a carbonate aquifer in a semi-arid environment.

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