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Lithology and fracture characterization from drilling investigations in the Mirror Lake area, Grafton County, New Hampshire

January 1, 1998

The lithology and fracture network of the bedrock aquifer in the Mirror Lake area were characterized from hydrogeologic data collected from 1979-95 in Grafton County, N.H. The collection of these data is an integral part of an ongoing multidisciplinary study by the U.S. Geological Survey to characterize groundwater flow and solute transport in fractured rock. The data provide a physical framework and enable the characterization of the fractures and the rock types in the bedrock aquifer in the Mirror Lake study area. In addition, these data provide a detailed description of the subsurface intersected by boreholes that can be used to compare the results of other borehole testing.

The Mirror Lake area is characterized by steep bedrock uplands that are mostly covered by colluvium, discontinuous stratified-drift deposits, and glacial till that varies locally in thickness from less than 10 meters to as much as 50 meters. The land-surface altitude ranges from 180 meters near the Pemigewasset River to 720 meters on the mountain top on the northwestern side of the study area. The bedrock in the area is predominantly sillimanite-grade pelitic schists that have been complexly folded and intruded by granitoids, pegmatites, and diabase dikes. The bedrock has been fractured in response to local and tectonic stress. The resulting interconnected network of fractures forms the bedrock aquifer.

This report describes the lithologic units in the study area and provides a characterization of the lithology and fractures found in 40 boreholes, which range in depth from 60 to 305 meters, that were drilled for this study. Drilling logs and color video surveys were used to locate and characterize the fractures and rock types in the subsurface. Solid bedrock core was obtained from three of the boreholes. Petrographic thin-section, x-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscope with energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence spectrometry analyses were done on selected samples from boreholes and outcrops. Observations recorded at the time of drilling, descriptions of rock samples collected from the boreholes, interpretation of rock type and fractures based on boreholeimaging surveys, descriptions of rock core and petrographic analyses of selected rock samples are in tables and figures.

Analysis of the data provided information on the distribution of fractures and lithology in the boreholes at Mirror Lake. The relative abundances of the rock types were computed for three groups of boreholes, including (1) the Forest Service Experimental (FSE) well field, (2) the Camp Osceola (CO) well field, and (3) the index boreholes, which are 15 boreholes distributed areally throughout the study area including the deepest borehole from each of the two well fields. The index boreholes are separated by hundreds of meters and are typically 100 meters deep. The FSE well field includes 13 boreholes that are separated by 10 to 40 meters. These 13 boreholes are approximately 100 meters deep, except for one borehole that is 230 meters deep. The rocks penetrated by the FSE wells are predominantly igneous. Approximately 70 percent of the rocks encountered in the boreholes in the FSE well field were granite, pegmatite, and aplite. The CO well field includes 9 boreholes that range from 60-70 meters deep and one borehole that is 175 meters deep. The rocks encountered in these boreholes were predominantly metamorphic. The distribution of rock types in the CO well field is similar to the distribution of rocks in highway roadcuts, that are approximately 90 to 150 meters east of the well field. Seventy percent of the roadcut exposures are schist. Collectively, in the 15 index boreholes, the metamorphic and igneous rocks are equally distributed. Analysis of the rock types in these boreholes indicates that the rock types tend to "change" every 5 to 9 meters.

Although the metamorphic and igneous rocks each comprise approximately 50 percent of the rock types observed in the 15 index boreholes, 73 percent of the fractures were in the igneous rocks. This indicates that the granitoids tend to be more fractured than the metamorphic rocks. Pegmatite, diabase, quartzite, and gneissic rocks are relatively unfractured.

Boreholes completed in bedrock generally have one or two water-bearing zones, which were identified during the drilling process. At the completion of drilling a borehole, the driller estimated the yield of the borehole with an air-lift test. Yields estimated by drillers ranged from less than 3 to 378 liters per minute. These yields are typical of the yields measured for domestic wells in Grafton County. Water levels measured in the open boreholes after the boreholes recovered from the hydraulic stresses of drilling were usually in the steel casing and were within 10 meters of the land surface. Water levels in eight of the boreholes were above the top of casing or above land surface.

Publication Year 1998
Title Lithology and fracture characterization from drilling investigations in the Mirror Lake area, Grafton County, New Hampshire
DOI 10.3133/wri984183
Authors C. D. Johnson, A.H. Dunstan
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 98-4183
Index ID wri984183
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Office of Ground Water; Toxic Substances Hydrology Program