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Hydrogeologic controls on ground-water discharge to the Washington METRO subway tunnel near the Medical Center station and Crossover, Montgomery County, Maryland

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2003-4294

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Abstract

Excessive water intrusion has been observed inside several of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority subway tunnels, with the worst leakage occurring along the Red Line tunnels and stations north of Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. These tunnels were constructed in bedrock that contains permeable (water-bearing) joints and fractures. Excessive water leakage through the walls and water inside the underground facilities has damaged mechanical and electrical components in the tunnel, and has escalated the deterioration rate of the rail system. The U.S. Geological Survey and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority have worked cooperatively on a study from 200003 to describe and quantify the factors controlling ground-water flow into the Red Line subway tunnel near the Medical Center Station and Crossover in Montgomery County, Maryland. The Red Line near the Medical Center Station and Crossover passes through or beneath the gneissic Sykesville Formation and the biotite-hornblende tonalite member of the Georgetown Intrusive Suite, both of which contain numerous fractures. The mapped foliation and joints of the Sykesville Formation in the vicinity of the Medical Center Station and Crossover are generally orientated north-south. Fractures in the Sykesville Formation in outcrops appear to be poorly connected. In the biotite-hornblende tonalite member of the Georgetown Intrusive Suite, the general orientation of the mapped foliation and joints is east-west. In contrast to the fractures in the Sykesville Formation, the fractures in the Georgetown Intrusive Suite in outcrops appear to be more numerous and have a greater degree of connectivity. Fractures intersecting four bedrock wells near the Medical Center Station and Crossover that were drilled into the biotite-hornblende tonalite member of the Georgetown Intrusive Suite show an east-west orientation matching the foliation and joints shown on geologic maps. The excessive water intrusion at the Medical Center Station and Crossover could be the result of its location within the Georgetown Intrusive Suite. The abrupt changes in the mapped directions of ground-water flow based on the hydraulic heads at the contact between the Sykesville Formation and biotite-hornblende tonalite member of the Georgetown Intrusive Suite could also be the result of the change in fracturing between these two lithologies. Saprolite, a residual of soft, red/brown to gray clay from decomposed crystalline rock, overlies the bedrock and varies from about 20 to 55 feet thick, depending on location. On the basis of a slug test conducted in the lower part of the saprolite near the Medical Center Station and Crossover, transmissivity and storativity of the saprolite were estimated to be 10 feet squared per day and 10-6 , respectively. The transmissivity of fractures intersecting bedrock boreholes drilled in the biotite-hornblende tonalite member of the Georgetown Intrusive Suite varies over five orders of magnitude, from a maximum of approximately 10 feet squared per day to the detection limit of the in situ testing apparatus, which is approximately 10-4 feet squared per day. In general, the transmissivity of fractures intersecting the boreholes increases with depth. The low transmissivity of bedrock fractures in close proximity to the saprolite is likely to be caused by the fractures being filled with byproducts of rock weathering, resulting in reduced permeability. 2 Hydrogeologic Controls on Ground-Water Discharge to the Washington METRO Subway Tunnel The bulk transmissivity of the bedrock aquifer is approximately 3.7 feet squared per day, as determined from an aquifer test conducted by pumping a 240-foot-deep borehole and monitoring the drawdown over 3 days in the pumped borehole and several observation boreholes. In general, the hydraulic head decreases with depth in bedrock boreholes, indicating the potential for downward ground-water flow. Based on hydraulic head values mea

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Hydrogeologic controls on ground-water discharge to the Washington METRO subway tunnel near the Medical Center station and Crossover, Montgomery County, Maryland
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
2003-4294
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2004
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
v, 33 p. : col. ill., col. maps ; 28 cm.