Hydrologic effects of stress-relief fracturing in an Appalachian Valley

Water Supply Paper 2177




A hydrologic study at Twin Falls State Park, Wyoming County, West Virginia, was made to determine how fracture systems affect the occurrence and movement of ground water in a typical valley of the Appalachian Plateaus Physiographic Province. Twin Falls was selected because it is generally unaffected by factors that would complicate an analysis of the data. The study area was the Black Fork Valley at Twin Falls. The valley is about 3 miles long and 400 to 600 feet wide and is cut into massive sandstone units interbedded with thin coal and shale beds. The study was made to determine how aquifer characteristics were related to fracture systems in this valley, so that the relation could be applied to studies of other valleys. Two sites were selected for test drilling, pumping tests, and geophysical studies. One site is in the upper part of the valley, and the second is near the lower central part. At both sites, ground water occurs mainly in horizontal bedding-plane fractures under the valley floor and in nearly vertical and horizontal slump fractures along the valley wall. The aquifer is under confined conditions under the valley floor and unconfined conditions along the valley wall. The fractures pinch out under the valley walls, which form impermeable barriers. Tests of wells near the valley center indicated a change in storage coefficient as the cone of depression caused by pumping reached the confined-unconfined boundaries; the tests also indicated barrier-image effects when the cone reached the impermeable boundaries. Drawdown from pumping near the center of the valley affected water levels at both sites, indicating a hydraulic connection from the upper to the lower end of the valley. Stream gain-and-loss studies show that ground water discharges to the stream from horizontal fractures beneath Black Fork Falls, near the mouth of Black Fork. The fracture systems that constitute most of the transmissive part of the aquifer at Twin Falls are like those described as being formed from stress relief. As stress-relief fractures have been described in other valleys of the Appalachian Plateaus, the same aquifer conditions may exist in those valleys.

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Hydrologic effects of stress-relief fracturing in an Appalachian Valley
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Water Supply Paper
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vii, 51 p. :ill. (some col.), maps (some col.) ;28 cm.