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Use of hydraulic tests at different scales to characterize fracture network properties in the weathered-fractured layer of a hard rock aquifer

Abstract : The hydrodynamic properties of the weathered-fractured layer of a hard-rock pilot watershed in a granitic terrain are characterized using hydraulic tests at different scales. The interpretation of numerous slug tests leads to characterize the statistical distribution of local permeabilities in the wells. The application of flowmeter profiles during injection tests determines the vertical distribution of conductive fracture zones and their permeabilities. It appears that the extension of the most conductive part of the weathered-fractured layer is limited down to 35 meters depth. The partition of drainage porosity between blocks (90%) and fractures (10%) is determined thanks to the interpretation of pumping tests using a double porosity model. The application of anisotropic and single fracture analytical solutions on pumping test data allows to determine, respectively, the degree of anisotropy of permeability ( ) and the radius (4 to 16 meters) of the horizontal conductive fractures crossed by the wells. Two different scales of fractures networks are identified: the primary fracture network (PFN), which affects the matrix on a decimeter scale by contributing to an increase in the permeability and storage capacity of the blocks, and the secondary fracture network (SFN), which affects the blocks at the borehole scale. SFN is composed of two sets of fractures. The main set of horizontal fractures is responsible for the sub-horizontal permeability of the weathered-fractured layer. A second set of less permeable sub-vertical fractures insures the connectivity of the aquifer at the borehole scale. The good connectivity of fractures networks is shown by fractional dimension flow solutions. The absence of scale effect in the study area suggests that the hydraulic conductivity at the borehole scale is laterally homogeneous. Finally, the analysis and synthesis of the hydrodynamic properties allow to propose a comprehensive hydrodynamic model of the fractured-weathered layer. Many geological and hydrogeological indicators suggest that a continuous and laterally homogeneous weathering process is responsible for the origin of the fractures and permeability encountered in the aquifer. These results confirm the major role played by weathering in the origin of fractures and on resulting hydrodynamic parameters in the shallow part of hard-rock aquifers.
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Jean-Christophe Maréchal, Benoît Dewandel, K. Subrahmanyam. Use of hydraulic tests at different scales to characterize fracture network properties in the weathered-fractured layer of a hard rock aquifer. Water Resources Research, American Geophysical Union, 2004, 40, pp.W11508. ⟨10.1029/2004WR003137⟩. ⟨hal-00458384⟩

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