Certain geologic media are known to have small permeability; subsurface environments composed of these media and lacking well developed secondary permeability have groundwater flow systems with many distinctive characteristics. Moreover, groundwater flow in these environments appears to influence the evolution of certain hydrologic, geologic, and geochemical systems, may affect the accumulation of petroleum and ores, and probably has a role in the structural evolution of parts of the crust. Such environments are also important in the context of waste disposal. This review attempts to synthesize the diverse contributions of various disciplines to the problem of flow in low-permeability environments. Problems hindering analysis are enumerated together with suggested approaches to overcoming them. A common thread running through the discussion is the significance of size- and time-scale limitations of the ability to directly observe flow behavior and make significance of size- and time-scale limitations of the ability to directly observe flow behavior and make measurements of parameters.
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Ground-water flow in low permeability environments