The confining ability of the St. Francois confining unit (Derby-Doerun Dolomite and Davis Formation) was evaluated in ten townships (T. 31?35 N. and R. 01?02 W.) along the Viburnum Trend of southeastern Missouri. Vertical hydraulic conductivity data were compared to similar data collected during two previous studies 20 miles south of the Viburnum Trend, in two lead-zinc exploration areas that may be a southern extension of the Viburnum Trend. The surficial Ozark aquifer is the primary source of water for domestic and public-water supplies and major springs in southern Missouri. The St. Francois confining unit lies beneath the Ozark aquifer and impedes the movement of water between the Ozark aquifer and the underlying St. Francois aquifer (composed of the Bonneterre Formation and Lamotte Sandstone). The Bonneterre Formation is the primary host formation for lead-zinc ore deposits of the Viburnum Trend and potential host formation in the exploration areas.
For most of the more than 40 years the mines have been in operation along the Viburnum Trend, about 27 million gallons per day were being pumped from the St. Francois aquifer for mine dewatering. Previous studies conducted along the Viburnum Trend have concluded that no large cones of depression have developed in the potentiometric surface of the Ozark aquifer as a result of mining activity. Because of similar geology, stratigraphy, and depositional environment between the Viburnum Trend and the exploration areas, the Viburnum Trend may be used as a pertinent, full-scale model to study and assess how mining may affect the exploration areas.
Along the Viburnum Trend, the St. Francois confining unit is a complex series of dolostones, limestones, and shales that generally is 230 to 280 feet thick with a net shale thickness ranging from less than 25 to greater than 100 feet with the thickness increasing toward the west. Vertical hydraulic conductivity values determined from laboratory permeability tests were used to represent the St. Francois confining unit along the Viburnum Trend. The Derby-Doerun Dolomite and Davis Formation are statistically similar, but the Davis Formation would be the more hydraulically restrictive medium. The shale and carbonate values were statistically different. The median vertical hydraulic conductivity value for the shale samples was 62 times less than the carbonate samples. Consequently, the net shale thickness of the confining unit along the Viburnum Trend significantly affects the effective vertical hydraulic conductivity. As the percent of shale increases in a given horizon, the vertical hydraulic conductivity decreases.
The range of effective vertical hydraulic conductivity for the confining unit in the Viburnum Trend was estimated to be a minimum of 2 x 10-13 ft/s (foot per second) and a maximum of 3 x 10-12 ft/s. These vertical hydraulic conductivity values are considered small and verify conclusions of previous studies that the confining unit effectively impedes the flow of ground water between the Ozark aquifer and the St. Francois aquifer along the Viburnum Trend.
Previously-collected vertical hydraulic conductivity data for the two exploration areas from two earlier studies were combined with the data collected along the Viburnum Trend. The nonparametric Kruskal-Wallis statistical test shows the vertical hydraulic conductivity of the St. Francois confining unit along the Viburnum Trend, and west and east exploration areas are statistically different. The vertical hydraulic conductivity values generally are the largest in the Viburnum Trend and are smallest in the west exploration area. The statistical differences in these values do not appear to be attributed strictly to either the Derby-Doerun Dolomite or Davis Formation, but instead they are caused by the differences in the carbonate vertical hydraulic conductivity values at the three locations.
The calculated effective vertical hydraulic conductivity range for the St. Franc
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USGS Numbered Series
Stratigraphy and vertical hydraulic conductivity of the St. Francois Confining Unit in the Viburnum Trend and evaluation of the Unit in the Viburnum Trend and exploration areas, southeastern Missouri