Determination of flow characteristics in the aquifer of the Northwestern Peninsula of Yucatan, Mexico


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April 1997


Flow characteristics were studied in the Northwestern Peninsula of Yucatan, Mexico. The Yucatan aquifer is a mature karst system, influenced by the Ring of Cenotes (sinkholes). This zone of aligned sinkholes is a high-permeability zone with respect to its surroundings. The aquifer is unconfined within the study area. Water-level measurements at 48 locations were made in June and October 1994; they were measured up to four times in October. Water levels in a limited group of wells showed variations up to 60% during October 1994 whereas others had variations of the order of 5% in the same period. By studying the resulting equipotential regimes, a highly variable zone (HVZ) was identified. Drain characteristics are significantly different from the rest of the study area, which leads to the hypothesis that the HVZ represents an independent subsystem of interconnected fractures. To determine directions of high permeability within the study area, azimuthal resistivity surveys were conducted at 22 locations. Resistivity curves particularly in the HVZ show two or more peaks, each indicating a direction of high permeability. Directions of high permeability are interpreted to be preferential directions of aligned fractures. Comparison with the two different equipotential regimes in October 1994 shows that in the majority of the cases the direction of the hydraulic gradient coincides with the direction of one fracture system. The hydraulic gradient can be considered to be the major control in the dissolution process at least in the HVZ, resulting in the selective opening of the fractures. Peaks in the resistivity curves are of the same order of magnitude. This shows that both regimes of equipotential lines and the corresponding changes of the hydraulic gradients are sufficiently frequent to be able to create different fracture systems with a comparable fracture density. The variations of the equipotential regime in time may have severe consequences in terms of the risk of aquifer contamination in the highly variable zone. C


Flow Characteristics, Aquifer, Northwestern Peninsula Of Yucatan, Mexico, Sinkholes, Ring Of Cenotes

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Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 191, no. 1-4 (1997-04).