Fracture control of regional ground-water flow in a carbonate aquifer in a semi-arid region.


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February 1998


We integrate fracture mapping and numerical modeling to assess the role of fractures in regional round-water flow. Although the importance of fractures in ground-water flow and solute transport is accepted generally, few studies have addressed quantitatively the regional hydrogeological implications of fractures. The field-study area in west Texas and southeastern New Mexico consists primarily of subhorizontal Permian carbonate rocks cut by extensional faults and fractures. Air-photo analysis and field mapping reveal a broad fracture zone extending from the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico to the Salt Basin near Dell City, Texas. Most fractures are subparallel to major normal faults. The most intense fracturing coincides with a prominent trough in the potentiometric surface and an apparent “plume” of relatively fresh ground water. Flow models, corroborated by geochemical data, indicate that fracturing has created a high-permeability zone that funnels recharge from the Sacramento Mountains at least 80 km southeastward to its discharge zone.


Carbonate Rocks, Fractures, Hudspeth County Texas, Faults, Ground Water, New Mexico, Otero County New Mexico, Texas, Remote Sensing, West Texas, United States, Sedimentary Rocks

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Geological Society of America Bulletin, Vol. 110, no. 2 (1998-02-01).