As part of a regional groundwater investigation, geophysical logs were obtained in two municipal water wells located near the west Texas city of Alpine. These boreholes are 252 and 285 m deep and penetrate extrusive rocks of Tertiary age. The deeper well was drilled in the central valley and the other along the northern flank of an east-west trending valley-ridge setting. Analysis and interpretation of the logs reveal that the two wells are subjected to significantly different stress environments because of topographic effects and exhibit significantly different hydrogeologic properties. Water production is associated with two specific types of features common to both wells: (1) the upper and lower contacts of a dense trachyte unit located in the shallow part of the wells and (2) deeper zones of highly fractured rocks within the interior of a basalt formation. The transmissivity of the trachyte boundaries is twice as large in the central valley well as it is in the ridge flank well, whereas the transmissivity of the deeper basalts is an order of magnitude greater in the flank well than it is in the central well. This discrepancy is examined from the perspective of rock failure, fracture opening, and flow enhancement by computing values for a Drucker-Prager stability factor that is based on the magnitudes of the normal and deviatoric stress invariants as a function of depth. Thus the field measurements and subsequent stress analysis offer evidence of a coupled tectonic-hydrologic interaction at this site.
Additional publication details
Topographic stress perturbations in southern Davis Mountains, west Texas 2. Hydrogeologic implications