Hydrologic response to pumping and contaminant advection in a fractured rock environment

Duke U. Ophori, Tin Chan, Frank W. Stanchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Ground water flow and supply at the Whiteshell Research Area (WRA) in southeastern Manitoba and the advective movement of contaminants from a hypothetical nuclear fuel waste disposal vault to the adjacent biosphere and a nearby ground water supply well are simulated using finite-element modeling and numerical particle-tracking technique. The hypothetical vault is located at a depth of 500 m, below the water table, in low-permeability plutonic rock of the Canadian Shield. The rock mass is intersected by high-permeability fracture zones (aquifers), which also act as conduits for vault contaminants to migrate to the ground surface. The ground water resource is, therefore, limited in quantity and quality and should be explored with care. A 30 m deep well, which pumps water at a rate of 120 m3/yr from a low-dipping fracture zone, LD1, reduces natural discharge from the system to augment natural recharge. At this pumping rate, a 100 m or 200 m deep well neither reduces discharge nor induces recharge into the system. Thus, at the WRA, a 30 m deep domestic water supply well best meets the water requirements of a one-person household at the rate of 120 m3/yr. The 100 m and 200 m wells best meet the requirements of a family of six and a family of six with light irrigation, respectively, without capturing contaminants' pathways from the vault to the ground surface. By virtue of the proximity of the 200 m well intake to the hypothetical vault, this well performs best as a purge well at pumping rates of 10,000 m3/yr and greater. Finite-element modeling is useful in evaluating the water supply potential of a fractured rock environment in which a nuclear waste disposal vault is proposed to be sited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1998


  • Ground water hydrology
  • Ground water wells
  • Hydraulics
  • Hydrogeology
  • Modeling
  • Pumping, hydrologic response
  • Simulation


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