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Water Resources Research

Characterization of leaky faults: Study of water flow in aquifer-fault-aquifer systems

Authors

  • Chao Shan,

  • Iraj Javandel,

  • Paul A. Witherspoon


Abstract

Leaky faults provide important flow paths for fluids to move underground. It is often necessary to characterize such faults in engineering projects such as deep well injection of waste liquids, underground natural gas storage, and radioactive waste isolation. To provide this characterization, analytical solutions are presented for groundwater flow through saturated aquifer-fault-aquifer systems assuming that both the aquifers and the fault are homogeneous and that the fault has an insignificant effect on aquifer hydraulic properties. Three different conditions are considered: (1) drawdown in the unpumped aquifer is negligibly small; (2) drawdown in the unpumped aquifer is significant, and the two aquifers have the same diffusivity; and (3) drawdown in the unpumped aquifer is significant, and the two aquifers have different diffusivities. Methods are presented to determine the fault transmissivity from pumping test data.

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