Characteristics of Fractures in Crystalline Bedrock Determined by Surface and Borehole Geophysical Surveys, Eastern Surplus Superfund Site, Meddybemps, Maine

U.S. Geological Survey, Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4050

by Bruce P. Hansen, Janet Radway Stone, and John W. Lane, Jr.

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Surface and borehole geophysical methods were used to determine fracture orientation in crystalline bedrock at the Eastern Surplus Superfund Site in Meddybemps, Maine. Fracture-orientation information is needed to address concerns about the fate of contaminants in ground water at the site. Azimuthal square-array resistivity surveys were conducted at 3 locations at the site, borehole-acoustic televiewer and borehole-video logs were collected in 10 wells, and single-hole directional radar surveys were conducted in 9 wells. Borehole-video logs were used to supplement the results of other geophysical techniques and are not described in this report.

Analysis of azimuthal square-array resistivity data indicated that high-angle fracturing generally strikes northeast-southwest at the three locations. Borehole-acoustic televiewer logs detected one prominent low-angle and two prominent high-angle fracture sets. The low-angle fractures strike generally north-northeast and dip about 20 degrees west-northwest. One high-angle fracture set strikes north-northeast and dips east-southeast; the other high-angle set strikes east-northeast and dips south-southeast. Single-hole directional radar surveys identified two prominent fracture sets: a low-angle set striking north-northeast, dipping west-northwest; and a high-angle fracture set striking north-northeast, dipping east-southeast. Two additional high-angle fracture sets are defined weakly, one striking east-west, dipping north; and a second striking east-west, dipping south.

Integrated results from all of the geophysical surveys indicate the presence of three primary fracture sets. A low-angle set strikes north-northeast and dips west-northwest. Two high-angle sets strike north-northeast and east-northeast and dip east-southeast and south-southeast. Statistical correction of the fracture data for orientation bias indicates that high-angle fractures are more numerous than observed in the data but are still less numerous than the low-angle fractures.

The orientation and distribution of water-yielding fractures sets were determined by correlating the fracture data from this study with previously collected borehole-flowmeter data. The water-yielding fractures are generally within the three prominent fracture sets observed for the total fracture population. The low-angle water-yielding fractures primarily strike north-northeast to west-northwest and dip west-northwest to south-southwest. Most of the high-angle water-yielding fractures strike either north-northeast or east-west and dip east-southeast or south. The spacing between water-yielding fractures varies but the probable average spacing is estimated to be 30 feet for low-angle fractures; 27 feet for the east-southeast dipping, high-angle fractures; and 43 feet for the south-southeast dipping, high-angle fractures.

The median estimated apparent transmissivity of individual water-yielding fractures or fracture zones was 0.3 feet squared per day and ranged from 0.01 to 382 feet squared per day. Ninety-five percent of the water-yielding fractures or fracture zones had an estimated apparent transmissivity of 19.5 feet squared per day or less.

The orientation, spacing, and hydraulic properties of water-yielding fractures identified during this study can be used to help estimate recharge, flow, and discharge of ground water contaminants. High-angle fractures provide vertical pathways for ground water to enter the bedrock, interconnections between low-angle fractures, and, subsequently, pathways for water flow within the bedrock along fracture planes. Low-angle fractures may allow horizontal ground-water flow in all directions. The orientation of fracturing and the hydraulic properties of each fracture set strongly affect changes in ground-water flow under stress (pumping) conditions.

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