Ground water behaviour in karst: example of the Ombla Spring (Croatia)
The hydro-electric power plant (HEPP) which will exclusively use water from a karst underground storage basin will be built in the vicinity of the abundant karst spring Ombla in Croatia. This paper presents the results obtained by hydrogeologic, hydrologic and hydraulic investigations related to the principles of ground water circulation in the karst. The analyses included the determination of the effective porosity ne of the karst aquifer and the definition of the volume of large conduits and small fractures in the karst which form the aquifer volume. The position and dimensions of large karst conduits have also been defined. It was established that in three small springs, Zaton, Zavrelje and Slavljan, water overflows from the Ombla Spring in periods of high ground water levels. It was also discovered that at certain periods the Dupuit expression for steady-state flow in an unconfined aquifer can be used. In accordance with this, it was possible to determine the values of hydraulic conductivity, K (in m s−1), for the Ombla aquifer. They range from 2 × 10−3 to 5 × 10−3 m s−1), and are inversely proportional to the Ombla Spring discharge. Continuous measurements of the ground water level by several piezometers located in the karst hinterland of the Ombla Spring and simultaneous measurement of the discharge made it possible to define discharge curves of the Ombla Spring dependent upon the ground water levels at various locations. Characteristic features of the discharge curves made the identification of the position and dimensions of the main karst conduits possible.