Quantitative tracing of the Maligne karst system, Alberta, Canada


C. C. Smart


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Journal of Hydrology

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Early dye tracing studies on the large Maligne karst aquifer in the Canadian Rocky Mountains gave indeterminate results and low tracer recoveries. In contrast, a recent series of tests using high-precision field fluorometry gave well defined breakthrough curves and far higher but variable recovery. Low recovery in one test may be accounted for by hydraulic switching or interaction with an alluvial aquifer which buries the principal conduit outlets. A 16 km long karst conduit averaging between 90 and 170m2 in cross-sectional area drains the principal sinking lake to a group of karst springs. A 14 km tributary conduit, linking a high karst valley to the major conduit, both drains and feeds the karst lake, although during winter it has flows transitional between laminar and turbulent regimes. A strong nonlinear relation between travel time and discharge suggests a partly vadose system that is little influenced by unsteady flow. Static and maximum dynamic conduit storage were estimated to be 1.95 and 0.76 × 106m3, respectively.

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