On concentrated solute sources in faulted aquifers

N Robinson, A Werner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Finite aperture faults and fractures within aquifers (collectively called ‘faults’ hereafter) theoretically enable flowing water to move through them but with refractive displacement, both on entry and exit. When a 2D or 3D point source of solute concentration is located upstream of the fault, the plume emanating from the source relative to one in a fault-free aquifer is affected by the fault, both before it and after it. Previous attempts to analyze this situation using numerical methods faced challenges in overcoming computational constraints that accompany requisite fine mesh resolutions. To address these, an analytical solution of this problem is developed and interrogated using statistical evaluation of solute distributions. The method of solution is based on novel spatial integral representations of the source with axes rotated from the direction of uniform water flow and aligning with fault faces and normals. Numerical exemplification is given to the case of a 2D steady state source, using various parameter combinations. Statistical attributes of solute plumes show the relative impact of parameters, the most important being, fault rotation, aperture and conductivity ratio. New general observations of fault-affected solution plumes are offered, including: (a) the plume's mode (i.e. peak concentration) on the downstream face of the fault is less displaced than the refracted groundwater flowline, but at some distance downstream of the fault, these realign; (b) porosities have no influence in steady state calculations; (c) previous numerical modeling results of barrier faults show significant boundary effects. The current solution adds to available benchmark problems involving fractures, faults and layered aquifers, in which grid resolution effects are often barriers to accurate simulation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)255-270
    Number of pages16
    JournalAdvances in Water Resources
    Volume104
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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