Previous studies have shown direct evidence of underseepage at Red Rock Dam on the Des Moines River near Pella, Iowa. Underseepage is thought to occur primarily on the northeast side of the dam in the lower bedrock of the St. Louis Limestone, which consists of discontinuous basal evaporite beds and an overlying cavity zone. Because of concerns about the integrity of the dam, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiated a remedial grouting program in September 1991. To assess the effectiveness of the remedial grouting program and to evaluate methods for future assessments, a study was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Potentiometric surface maps of the overburden and bedrock indicate that the direction of ground-water flow on the northeast side of the dam has changed little from pre-grout to postgrout periods. A comparison of water levels, between a pre-grout date and a post-grout date, shows that water levels decreased but that the decrease may be more attributable to changes in dam operations than to remedial grouting. Waterlevel data for the same two dates indicate that a more gradual potentiometric surface exists on the northeast side of the dam than on the southwest side of the dam, which suggests that the hydraulic connection between Lake Red Rock and downgradient bedrock wells still is greater on the northeast side of the dam than on the southwest side. Hydrographs for some wells on the northeast side of the dam indicated a departure from pre-grout trends at approximately the same time grouting was initiated. To varying degrees, hydrographs for the same wells then appear to return to a trend similar to pre-grout years, possibly as a result of new flow paths developing over time after remedial grouting. Spearman correlation coefficients computed for water levels in wells, pool, and tailwater indicate that some areas on the northeast side of the dam appear to be less under the influence of changing pool elevations after grouting than before grouting. This suggests that the hydraulic connection between the Red Rock pool and some downgradient areas has decreased. Analysis of water samples collected from selected wells on the northeast side of the dam shows significant increases in sulfate concentrations beginning about the same time remedial grouting was done upgradient from the wells, possibly indicating that flow paths were cut off to these wells, thereby reducing the amount of mixing with fresh reservoir water. Observable changes in chloride concentrations or trends as a result of remedial grouting were not apparent. Analysis results for hydrogen and oxygen stable isotope samples collected since 1995 indicate large seasonal fluctuations of isotope ratios in the tailwater (assumed representative of the reservoir). Similar but more subdued fluctuations were observed at some wells, but other wells appeared to have little seasonal change. Stable sulfur isotope results indicate the presence of distinct water types between Lake Red Rock and in ground water from downgradient bedrock wells. Sulfur isotope values from samples from a bedrock well located upgradient from the grout curtain indicate a mixture of pool and ground water, whereas samples from downgradient overburden wells have values similar to the pool. Samples from the bedrock wells downgradient from the grout curtain have sulfur isotope values similar to a value obtained from analysis of a gypsum and anhydrite core sample. Hydrographs, statistical analysis of waterlevel data, and water-chemistry data suggest that underseepage on the northeast side of the dam has been reduced but not completely eliminated. Some areas appear to have been affected to a greater degree and for a longer period of time than other areas. Future monitoring of water levels, water chemistry, and stable isotopes can aid in the evaluation of the long-term effectiveness of remedial grouting.
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USGS Numbered Series
Effects of remedial grouting on the ground-water flow system at Red Rock Dam near Pella, Iowa