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Preliminary Delineation of Contaminated Water-Bearing Fractures Intersected by Open-Hole Bedrock Wells

John H. Williams, U.S. Geological Survey, Albany, NY
Randall Conger, US Geological Survey, Harrisburg, PA


Contaminated water-bearing fractures intersected by open-hole bedrock wells were preliminarily delineated through a combination of geophysical logging, vertical-flow measurements, and downhole water sampling as part of remedial site investigations in southeastern New York. The wells investigated ranged from 100 to 450 feet in depth, have only shallow surface casing, and intersect multiple water-bearing zones. The distribution of water-bearing zones that intersect the wells was determined from single-point resistance, caliper, fluid-resistivity, temperature, and acoustic-televiewer logs. Measurable flow in the wells was downward from upper producing zones to lower receiving zones that are poorly connected in the aquifer and that differ in hydraulic head as a result of nearby pumping. A downhole sampler was used to collect discrete and composite water samples for analysis of volatile organic compounds from producing zones that are self-purging as a result of flow in the wells.

The results obtained at two of the study sites are presented -- the Spring Valley wellfield and the Mahopac business district. At the Spring Valley wellfield, a supply well completed in Mesozoic sandstone and conglomerate intersects water-bearing zones at depths of 204 to 245 feet that produced contaminated water that was received by a zone at 278 feet. n the same well, a deeper zone at 345 feet produced uncontaminated water that was received by a zone at 403 feet. Correlation of information from the well, geophysical logs and drill cores from nearby monitoring wells, and bedrock outcrops indicates that most of the water-bearing zones are bedding-plane separations that probably provide pathways for contamination transport in the bedrock aquifer for significant distances.

In the Mahopac business district, a deep test well completed in Precambrian gneiss intersected shallow water-bearing zones at 50 to 79 feet that produced contaminated water that was received by deep zones at 260 and 328 feet. The water-bearing zones consist of single or closely spaced multiple fractures with dips of 5 to 50 degrees. By analogy with the results from this test well, deep open-hole wells in the area may serve as "short circuits" in the ground water flow system and allow direct transport of contaminants to deeper zones in the fractured-bedrock aquifer.

The methods presented can be used to investigate ground water flow and contamination in fractured-bedrock aquifers in advance of more focused monitoring programs. The methods can be applied in existing open-hole wells before test drilling and monitoring well installation to provide for efficient program design. The methods also can be used during installation of monitoring wells to help determine completion depths and open intervals and to ensure that the wells are not serving as conduits for the flow of contaminated water.

Final copy as submitted to Ground Water Monitoring Review for publication as: Williams, J. H. and Conger, R. W. , 1990, Preliminary delineation of contaminated water-bearing fractures intersected by open-hole bedrock wells: Ground Water Monitoring Review, vol. 10, no. 4, p.118-126.

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