Borehole geophysical investigation of a formerly used defense site, Machiasport, Maine, 2003-2006

Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5120

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District
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The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, collected borehole geophysical logs in 18 boreholes and interpreted the data along with logs from 19 additional boreholes as part of an ongoing, collaborative investigation at three environmental restoration sites in Machiasport, Maine. These sites, located on hilltops overlooking the seacoast, formerly were used for military defense. At each of the sites, chlorinated solvents, used as part of defense-site operations, have contaminated the fractured-rock aquifer. Borehole geophysical techniques and hydraulic methods were used to characterize bedrock lithology, fractures, and hydraulic properties. In addition, each geophysical method was evaluated for effectiveness for site characterization and for potential application for further aquifer characterization and (or) evaluation of remediation efforts. Results of borehole geophysical logging indicate the subsurface is highly fractured, metavolcanic, intrusive, metasedimentary bedrock. Selected geophysical logs were cross-plotted to assess correlations between rock properties. These plots included combinations of gamma, acoustic reflectivity, electromagnetic induction conductivity, normal resistivity, and single-point resistance. The combined use of acoustic televiewer (ATV) imaging and natural gamma logs proved to be effective for delineating rock types. Each of the rock units in the study area could be mapped in the boreholes, on the basis of the gamma and ATV reflectivity signatures. The gamma and mean ATV reflectivity data were used along with the other geophysical logs for an integrated interpretation, yielding a determination of quartz monzonite, rhyolite, metasedimentary units, or diabase/gabbro rock types. The interpretation of rock types on the basis of the geophysical logs compared well to drilling logs and geologic mapping. These results may be helpful for refining the geologic framework at depth. A stereoplot of all fractures intersecting the boreholes indicates numerous fractures, a high proportion of steeply dipping fractures, and considerable variation in fracture orientation. Low-dip-angle fractures associated with unloading and exfoliation are also present, especially at a depth of less than 100 feet below the top of casing. These sub-horizontal fractures help to connect the steeply dipping fractures, making this a highly connected fracture network. The high variability in the fracture orientations also increases the connectivity of the fracture network. A preliminary comparison of all fracture data from all the boreholes suggests fracturing decreases with depth. Because all the boreholes were not drilled to the same depth, however, there is a clear sampling bias. Hence, the deepest boreholes are analyzed separately for fracture density. For the deepest boreholes in the study, the intensity of fracturing does not decline significantly with depth. It is possible the fractures observed in these boreholes become progressively tighter or closed with depth, but this is difficult to verify with the borehole methods used in this investigation. The fact that there are more sealed fractures at depth (observed in optical televiewer logs in some of the boreholes) may indicate less opening of the sealed fractures, less water moving through the rock, and less weathering of the fracture infilling minerals. Although the fracture orientation remained fairly constant with depth, differences in the fracture patterns for the three restoration sites indicate the orientation of fractures varies across the study area. The fractures in boreholes on Miller Mountain predominantly strike northwest-southeast, and to a lesser degree they strike northeast. The fractures on or near the summit of Howard Mountain strike predominantly east-west and dip north and south, and the fractures near the Transmitter Site strike northeast-southwest and dip northwest and southeast. The fracture populations for the boreholes on or near the summit of Howard Mountain show more variation than at the other two sites. This variation may be related to the proximity of the fault, which is northeast of the summit of Howard Mountain. In a side-by-side comparison of stereoplots from selected boreholes, there was no clear correspondence between fracture orientation and proximity to the fault. There is, however, a difference in the total populations of fractures for the boreholes on or near the summit of Howard Mountain and the boreholes near the Transmitter Site. Further to the southwest and further away from the fault, the fractures at the Transmitter Site predominantly strike northeast-southwest and northwest-southeast.Heat-pulse flowmeter (HPFM) logging was used to identify transmissive fractures and to estimate the hydraulic properties along the boreholes. Ambient downflow was measured in 13 boreholes and ambient upflow was measured in 9 boreholes. In nine other bedrock boreholes, the HPFM did not detect measurable vertical flow. The observed direction of vertical flow in the boreholes generally was consistent with the conceptual flow model of downward movement in recharge locations and upward flow in discharge locations or at breaks in the slope of land surface. Under low-rate pumping or injection rates [0.25 to 1 gallon per minute (gal/min)], one to three inflow zones were identified in each borehole. Two limitations of HPFM methods are (1) the HPFM can only identify zones within 1.5 to 2 orders of magnitude of the most transmissive zone in each borehole, and (2) the HPFM cannot detect flow rates less than 0.010 + or - 0.005 gal/min, which corresponds to a transmissivity of about 1 foot squared per day (ft2/d). Consequently, the HPFM is considered an effective tool for identifying the most transmissive fractures in a borehole, down to its detection level. Transmissivities below that cut-off must be measured with another method, such as packer testing or fluid-replacement logging. Where sufficient water-level and flowmeter data were available, HPFM results were numerically modeled. For each borehole model, the fracture location and measured flow rates were specified, and the head and transmissivity of each fracture zone were adjusted until a model fit was achieved with the interpreted ambient and stressed flow profiles. The transmissivities calculated by this method are similar to the results of an open-hole slug test; with the added information from the flowmeter, however, the head and transmissivity of discrete zones also can be determined. The discrete-interval transmissivities ranged from 0.16 to 330 ft2/d. The flowmeter-derived open-hole transmissivity, which is the combined total of each of the transmissive zones, ranged from 1 to 511 ft2/d. The whole-well open-hole transmissivity values determined with HPFM methods were compared to the results of open-hole hydraulic tests. Despite the fact that the flowmeter-derived transmissivities consistently were lower than the estimates derived from open-hole hydraulic tests alone, the correlation was very strong (with a coefficient of determination, R2, of 0.9866), indicating the HPFM method provides a reasonable estimate of transmissivities for the most transmissive fractures in the borehole. Geologic framework, fracture characterization, and estimates of hydraulic properties were interpreted together to characterize the fracture network. The data and interpretation presented in this report should provide information useful for site investigators as the conceptual site groundwater flow model is refined. Collectively, the results and the conceptual site model are important for evaluating remediation options and planning or implementing the design of a well field and borehole completions that will be adequate for monitoring flow, remediation efforts, groundwater levels, and (or) water quality. Similar kinds of borehole geophysical logging (specifically the borehole imaging, gamma, fluid logs, and HPFM) should be conducted in any newly installed boreholes and integrated with interpretations of any nearby boreholes. If boreholes are installed close to existing or other new boreholes, cross-hole flowmeter surveys may be appropriate and may help characterize the aquifer properties and connections between the boreholes.

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Borehole geophysical investigation of a formerly used defense site, Machiasport, Maine, 2003-2006
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Scientific Investigations Report
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U.S. Geological Survey
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Reston, VA
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OGW Branch of Geophysics
viii, 75 p.; PDF Download of Report; PDF Download of Appendices
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