How good are estimates of transmissivity from slug tests in fractured rock?

Ground Water
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Abstract

Slug tests in fractured rock usually are interpreted with models that assume homogeneous formation properties, even though hydraulic properties of fractures can vary by many orders of magnitude over the length of boreholes. To investigate the impact of heterogeneity on the interpretation of slug tests in fractured rock, slug tests were conducted over large intervals of boreholes in crystalline rock in central New Hampshire, and interpreted using a homogeneous model. The results of the slug tests were then compared with estimates of transmissivity from fluid-injection tests conducted over shorter intervals in the same boreholes. The fluid-injection tests showed transmissivity to vary more than six orders of magnitude over the length of the boreholes; however, the sum of the transmissivities from the fluid-injection tests were within an order of magnitude of the transmissivity estimated from the slug tests. Although the two estimates of transmissivity were within an order of magnitude of each other, the water level responses during the slug tests did not exactly match the responses predicted by the homogeneous model. To investigate the effect of heterogeneity on water level responses during slug tests, a Laplace-transform solution was developed for slug tests conducted in boreholes containing multiple fractures with hydraulic properties that vary over the length of the borehole. A comparison of this solution with the homogeneous model shows no difference between the shape of water level responses in a homogeneous formation and a (layered) heterogeneous formation. Furthermore, the transmissivity estimated using a homogeneous model is within an order of magnitude of the prescribed transmissivity in the heterogeneous model. Thus, differences between responses predicted from a homogeneous model and measured water levels during slug tests can be attributed to phenomena such as nonradial flow in the vicinity of the borehole, and not heterogeneous hydraulic properties over the length of the borehole. The experimental results of this investigation show that even when conditions such as nonradial flow are present in the vicinity of the borehole, interpretations of slug tests using a homogeneous model provided order-of-magnitude estimates of transmissivity in the crystalline rock terrane under consideration.Slug tests in fractured rock are usually interpreted with models that assume homogeneous formation properties, although hydraulic properties of fractures can vary by many order of magnitude over the length of the boreholes. To investigate the impact of heterogeneity on the interpretation of slug tests in fractured rocks, slug tests were conducted over large intervals of boreholes in crystalline rock in central New Hampshire. Tests results were interpreted using a homogeneous model. A Laplace-transform solution was developed for slug tests conducted in boreholes containing multiple fractures with hydraulic properties. Finally, a comparison was made between this solution and the homogeneous model.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title How good are estimates of transmissivity from slug tests in fractured rock?
Series title Ground Water
DOI 10.1111/j.1745-6584.1998.tb01063.x
Volume 36
Issue 1
Year Published 1998
Language English
Publisher Ground Water Publ Co
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 12 p.
First page 37
Last page 48
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