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Contributing areas to domestic wells in dipping sedimentary rocks under extreme recharge events

January 5, 2022

We use particle tracking to determine contributing areas (CAs) to wells for transient flow models that simulate cyclic domestic pumping and extreme recharge events in a small synthetic watershed underlain by dipping sedimentary rocks. The CAs consist of strike-oriented bands at locations where the water table intersects high-hydraulic conductivity beds, and from which groundwater flows to the pumping well. Factors that affect the size and location of the CAs include topographic flow directions, rock dip direction, cross-bed fracture density, and position of the well relative to streams. For an effective fracture porosity (ne) of 10-4, the fastest advective travel times from CAs to wells are only a few hours. These results indicate that wells in this type of geologic setting can be highly vulnerable to contaminants or pathogens flushed into the subsurface during extreme recharge events. Increasing ne to 10-3 results in modestly smaller CAs and delayed well vulnerability due to slower travel times. CAs determined for steady-state models of the same setting, but with long-term average recharge and pumping rates, are smaller than CAs in the models with extreme recharge. Also, the earliest-arriving particles arrive at the wells later in the steady-state models than in the extreme-recharge models. The results highlight the importance of characterizing geologic structure, simulating plausible effective porosities, and simulating pumping and recharge transience when determining CAs in fractured rock aquifers to assess well vulnerability under extreme precipitation events.

Publication Year 2022
Title Contributing areas to domestic wells in dipping sedimentary rocks under extreme recharge events
DOI 10.1111/gwat.13169
Authors Claire R. Tiedeman, Allen M. Shapiro
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Groundwater
Index ID 70227287
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization WMA - Earth System Processes Division