Three-dimensional hydrostratigraphy and groundwater flow models in complex Quaternary deposits and weathered/fractured bedrock: evaluating increasing model complexity

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Greater complexity in three-dimensional (3D) model structures yields more plausible groundwater recharge/discharge patterns, especially in groundwater/surface-water interactions. The construction of a 3D hydrostratigraphic model prior to flow modelling is beneficial when the hydraulic conductivity of geological units varies considerably. A workflow for 3D hydrostratigraphic modelling with Leapfrog Geo and flow modelling with MODFLOW-NWT was developed. It was used to evaluate how the modelling results for groundwater flow and recharge/discharge patterns differ when using simple or more complex hydrostratigraphic models. The workflow was applied to a study site consisting of complex Quaternary sediments underlain by fractured and weathered crystalline bedrock. Increasing the hydrostratigraphic detail appeared to improve the fit between the observed and simulated water table, and created more plausible groundwater flow patterns. Interlayered zones of low and high conductivity disperse the recharge/discharge patterns, increasing the vertical flow component. Groundwater flow was predominantly horizontal in models in which Quaternary sediments and bedrock were simplified as one layer per unit. It appears to be important to define the interlayered low-conductivity units, which can limit groundwater infiltration and also affect groundwater discharge patterns. Explicit modelling with Leapfrog Geo was found to be effective but time-consuming in the generation of scattered and thin-layered strata.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1043-1074
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1171 Geosciences

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