Hydraulic conductivities of volcanic and carbonate lithologic units at the Nevada Test Site were estimated from flow logs and aquifer-test data. Borehole flow and drawdown were integrated and interpreted using a radial, axisymmetric flow model, AnalyzeHOLE. This integrated approach is used because complex well completions and heterogeneous aquifers and confining units produce vertical flow in the annular space and aquifers adjacent to the wellbore. AnalyzeHOLE simulates vertical flow, in addition to horizontal flow, which accounts for converging flow toward screen ends and diverging flow toward transmissive intervals. Simulated aquifers and confining units uniformly are subdivided by depth into intervals in which the hydraulic conductivity is estimated with the Parameter ESTimation (PEST) software. Between 50 and 150 hydraulic-conductivity parameters were estimated by minimizing weighted differences between simulated and measured flow and drawdown. Transmissivity estimates from single-well or multiple-well aquifer tests were used to constrain estimates of hydraulic conductivity. The distribution of hydraulic conductivity within each lithology had a minimum variance because estimates were constrained with Tikhonov regularization.
AnalyzeHOLE simulated hydraulic-conductivity estimates for lithologic units across screened and cased intervals are as much as 100 times less than those estimated using proportional flow-log analyses applied across screened intervals only. Smaller estimates of hydraulic conductivity for individual lithologic units are simulated because sections of the unit behind cased intervals of the wellbore are not assumed to be impermeable, and therefore, can contribute flow to the wellbore. Simulated hydraulic-conductivity estimates vary by more than three orders of magnitude across a lithologic unit, indicating a high degree of heterogeneity in volcanic and carbonate-rock units. The higher water transmitting potential of carbonate-rock units relative to volcanic-rock units is exemplified by the large difference in their estimated maximum hydraulic conductivity; 4,000 and 400 feet per day, respectively. Simulated minimum estimates of hydraulic conductivity are inexact and represent the lower detection limit of the method. Minimum thicknesses of lithologic intervals also were defined for comparing AnalyzeHOLE results to hydraulic properties in regional ground-water flow models.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Interpretation of Flow Logs from Nevada Test Site Boreholes to Estimate Hydraulic Conductivity Using Numerical Simulations Constrained by Single-Well Aquifer Tests