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Speleology in Kazakhstan

Shakalov on 04 Jul, 2018
Hello everyone!   I pleased to invite you to the official site of Central Asian Karstic-Speleological commission ("Kaspeko")   There, we regularly publish reports about our expeditions, articles and reports on speleotopics, lecture course for instructors, photos etc. ...

New publications on hypogene speleogenesis

Klimchouk on 26 Mar, 2012
Dear Colleagues, This is to draw your attention to several recent publications added to KarstBase, relevant to hypogenic karst/speleogenesis: Corrosion of limestone tablets in sulfidic ground-water: measurements and speleogenetic implications Galdenzi,

The deepest terrestrial animal

Klimchouk on 23 Feb, 2012
A recent publication of Spanish researchers describes the biology of Krubera Cave, including the deepest terrestrial animal ever found: Jordana, Rafael; Baquero, Enrique; Reboleira, Sofía and Sendra, Alberto. ...

Caves - landscapes without light

akop on 05 Feb, 2012
Exhibition dedicated to caves is taking place in the Vienna Natural History Museum   The exhibition at the Natural History Museum presents the surprising variety of caves and cave formations such as stalactites and various crystals. ...

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Featured articles from Cave & Karst Science Journals
Chemistry and Karst, White, William B.
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Karst environment, Culver D.C.
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Calculating flux to predict future cave radon concentrations, Rowberry, Matt; Marti, Xavi; Frontera, Carlos; Van De Wiel, Marco; Briestensky, Milos
Microbial mediation of complex subterranean mineral structures, Tirato, Nicola; Torriano, Stefano F.F;, Monteux, Sylvain; Sauro, Francesco; De Waele, Jo; Lavagna, Maria Luisa; D’Angeli, Ilenia Maria; Chailloux, Daniel; Renda, Michel; Eglinton, Timothy I.; Bontognali, Tomaso Renzo Rezio
Evidence of a plate-wide tectonic pressure pulse provided by extensometric monitoring in the Balkan Mountains (Bulgaria), Briestensky, Milos; Rowberry, Matt; Stemberk, Josef; Stefanov, Petar; Vozar, Jozef; Sebela, Stanka; Petro, Lubomir; Bella, Pavel; Gaal, Ludovit; Ormukov, Cholponbek;
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Your search for fractured rocks (Keyword) returned 10 results for the whole karstbase:
Basic concepts in the theory of homogeneous liquids in fractured rocks,, 1960, Barenblatt, G. E. , I. P. Zheltov, And I. N. Kochina

Structure et comportement hydraulique des aquifers karstiques, DSc thesis, 1996, Jeannin, P. Y.

This thesis aims to provide a better knowledge of karst flow systems, from a functional point of view (behaviour with time), as well as from a structural one (behaviour in space). The first part of the thesis deals with the hydrodynamic behaviour of karst systems, and the second part with the geometry of karstic networks, which is a strong conditioning factor for the hydrodynamic behaviour.
Many models have been developed in the past for describing the hydrodynamic behaviour of karst hydrogeological systems. They usually aim to provide a tool to extrapolate, in time and/or space, some characteristics of the flow fields, which can only be measured at a few points. Such models often provide a new understanding of the systems, beyond what can be observed directly in the field. Only special field measurements can verify such hypotheses based on numerical models. This is an significant part of this work. For this purpose, two experimental sites have been equipped and measured: Bure site or Milandrine, Ajoie, Switzerland, and Holloch site, Muotathal, Schwyz, Switzerland. These sites gave us this opportunity of simultaneously observe hydrodynamic parameters within the conduit network and, in drillholes, the "low permeability volumes" (LPV) surrounding the conduits.
These observations clearly show the existence of a flow circulation across the low permeability volumes. This flow may represent about 50% of the infiltrated water in the Bure test-field. The epikarst appears to play an important role into the allotment of the infiltrated waters: Part of the infiltrated water is stored at the bottom of the epikarst and slowly flows through the low permeability volumes (LPV) contributing to base flow. When infiltration is significant enough the other part of the water exceeds the storage capacity and flows quickly into the conduit network (quick flow).
For the phreatic zone, observations and models show that the following scheme is adequate to describe the flow behaviour: a network of high permeability conduits, of tow volume, leading to the spring, is surrounded by a large volume of low permeability fissured rock (LPV), which is hydraulically connected to the conduits. Due to the strong difference in hydraulic conductivity between conduits and LPV, hydraulic heads and their variations in time and space are strongly heterogeneous. This makes the use of piezometric maps in karst very questionable.
Flow in LPV can be considered as similar to flow in fractured rocks (laminar flow within joints and joints intersections). At a catchment scale, they can be effectively considered as an equivalent porous media with a hydraulic conductivity of about 10-6 to 10-7 m/s.
Flow in conduits is turbulent and loss of head has to be calculated with appropriate formulas, if wanting any quantitative results. Our observations permitted us to determine the turbulent hydraulic conductivity of some simple karst conduits (k', turbulent flow), which ranges from 0.2 to 11 m/s. Examples also show that the structure of the conduit network plays a significant role on the spatial distribution of hydraulic heads. Particularity hydraulic transmissivity of the aquifer varies with respect to hydrological conditions, because of the presence of overflow conduits located within the epiphreatic zone. This makes the relation between head and discharge not quadratic as would be expected from a (too) simple model (with only one single conduit). The model applied to the downstream part of Holloch is a good illustration of this phenomena.
The flow velocity strongly varies along the length of karst conduits, as shown by tracer experiments. Also, changes in the conduit cross-section produce changes in the (tow velocity profile. Such heterogeneous flow-field plays a significant role in the shape of the breakthrough curves of tracer experiments. It is empirically demonstrated that conduit enlargements induce retardation of the breakthrough curve. If there are several enlargements one after the other, an increase of the apparent dispersivity will result, although no diffusion with the rock matrix or immobile water is present. This produces a scale effect (increase of the apparent dispersivity with observation scale). Such observations can easily be simulated by deterministic and/or black box models.
The structure of karst conduit networks, especially within the phreatic zone, plays an important role not only on the spatial distribution of the hydraulic heads in the conduits themselves, but in the LPV as well. Study of the network geometry is therefore useful for assessing the shape of the flow systems. We further suggest that any hydrogeological study aiming to assess the major characteristics of a flow system should start with a preliminary estimation of the conduit network geometry. Theories and examples presented show that the geometry of karst conduits mainly depends on boundary conditions and the permeability field at the initial stage of the karst genesis. The most significant boundary conditions are: the geometry of the impervious boundaries, infiltration and exfiltration conditions (spring). The initial permeability field is mainly determined by discontinuities (fractures and bedding planes). Today's knowledge allows us to approximate the geometry of a karst network by studying these parameters (impervious boundaries, infiltration, exfiltration, discontinuity field). Analogs and recently developed numerical models help to qualitatively evaluate the sensitivity of the geometry to these parameters. Within the near future, new numerical tools will be developed and will help more closely to address this difficult problem. This development will only be possible if speleological networks can be sufficiently explored and used to calibrate models. Images provided by speleologists to date are and will for a long time be the only data which can adequately portray the conduit networks in karst systems. This is helpful to hydrogeologists. The reason that we present the example of the Lake Thun karst system is that it illustrates the geometry of such conduits networks. Unfortunately, these networks are three-dimensional and their visualisation on paper (2 dimensions) is very restrictive, when compared to more effective 3-D views we can create with computers. As an alternative to deterministic models of speleogenesis, fractal and/or random walk models could be employed.


Structure et comportement hydraulique des aquifers karstiques, DSc. Thesis, faculte des Sciences de l'Universite de Neuchatel., 1998, Jeannin Py.
This thesis aims to provide a better knowledge of karst flow systems, from a functional point of view (behaviour with time), as well as from a structural one (behaviour in space). The first part of the thesis deals with the hydrodynamic behaviour of karst systems, and the second part with the geometry of karstic networks, which is a strong conditioning factor for the hydrodynamic behaviour. Many models have been developed in the past for describing the hydrodynamic behaviour of karst hydrogeological systems. They usually aim to provide a tool to extrapolate, in time and/or space, some characteristics of the flow fields, which can only be measured at a few points. Such models often provide a new understanding of the systems, beyond what can be observed directly in the field. Only special field measurements can verify such hypotheses based on numerical models. This is an significant part of this work. For this purpose, two experimental sites have been equipped and measured: Bure site or Milandrine, Ajoie, Switzerland, and Holloch site, Muotathal, Schwyz, Switzerland. These sites gave us this opportunity of simultaneously observe hydrodynamic parameters within the conduit network and, in drillholes, the "low permeability volumes" (LPV) surrounding the conduits. These observations clearly show the existence of a flow circulation across the low permeability volumes. This flow may represent about 50% of the infiltrated water in the Bure test-field. The epikarst appears to play an important role into the allotment of the infiltrated waters: Part of the infiltrated water is stored at the bottom of the epikarst and slowly flows through the low permeability volumes (LPV) contributing to base flow. When infiltration is significant enough the other part of the water exceeds the storage capacity and flows quickly into the conduit network (quick flow). For the phreatic zone, observations and models show that the following scheme is adequate to describe the flow behaviour: a network of high permeability conduits, of tow volume, leading to the spring, is surrounded by a large volume of low permeability fissured rock (LPV), which is hydraulically connected to the conduits. Due to the strong difference in hydraulic conductivity between conduits and LPV, hydraulic heads and their variations in time and space are strongly heterogeneous. This makes the use of piezometric maps in karst very questionable. Flow in LPV can be considered as similar to flow in fractured rocks (laminar flow within joints and joints intersections). At a catchment scale, they can be effectively considered as an equivalent porous media with a hydraulic conductivity of about 10-6 to 10-7 m/s. Flow in conduits is turbulent and loss of head has to be calculated with appropriate formulas, if wanting any quantitative results. Our observations permitted us to determine the turbulent hydraulic conductivity of some simple karst conduits (k',turbulent flow), which ranges from 0.2 to 11 m/s. Examples also show that the structure of the conduit network plays a significant role on the spatial distribution of hydraulic heads. Particularity hydraulic transmissivity of the aquifer varies with respect to hydrological conditions, because of the presence of overflow conduits located within the epiphreatic zone. This makes the relation between head and discharge not quadratic as would be expected from a (too) simple model (with only one single conduit). The model applied to the downstream part of Holloch is a good illustration of this phenomena. The flow velocity strongly varies along the length of karst conduits, as shown by tracer experiments. Also, changes in the conduit cross-section produce changes in the (tow velocity profile. Such heterogeneous flow-field plays a significant role in the shape of the breakthrough curves of tracer experiments. It is empirically demonstrated that conduit enlargements induce retardation of the breakthrough curve. If there are several enlargements one after the other, an increase of the apparent dispersivity will result, although no diffusion with the rock matrix or immobile water is present. This produces a scale effect (increase of the apparent dispersivity with observation scale). Such observations can easily be simulated by deterministic and/or black box models. The structure of karst conduit networks, especially within the phreatic zone, plays an important role not only on the spatial distribution of the hydraulic heads in the conduits themselves, but in the LPV as well. Study of the network geometry is therefore useful for assessing the shape of the flow systems. We further suggest that any hydrogeological study aiming to assess the major characteristics of a flow system should start with a preliminary estimation of the conduit network geometry. Theories and examples presented show that the geometry of karst conduits mainly depends on boundary conditions and the permeability field at the initial stage of the karst genesis. The most significant boundary conditions are: the geometry of the impervious boundaries, infiltration and exfiltration conditions (spring). The initial permeability field is mainly determined by discontinuities (fractures and bedding planes). Today's knowledge allows us to approximate the geometry of a karst network by studying these parameters (impervious boundaries, infiltration, exfiltration, discontinuity field). Analogs and recently developed numerical models help to qualitatively evaluate the sensitivity of the geometry to these parameters. Within the near future, new numerical tools will be developed and will help more closely to address this difficult problem. This development will only be possible if speleological networks can be sufficiently explored and used to calibrate models. Images provided by speleologists to date are and will for a long time be the only data which can adequately portray the conduit networks in karst systems. This is helpful to hydrogeologists. The reason that we present the example of the Lake Thun karst system is that it illustrates the geometry of such conduits networks. Unfortunately, these networks are three-dimensional and their visualisation on paper (2 dimensions) is very restrictive, when compared to more effective 3-D views we can create with computers. As an alternative to deterministic models of speleogenesis, fractal and/or random walk models could be employed.

Karst aquifer evolution in fractured rocks., 1999, Kaufmann G. , Braun J.

Karst aquifer evolution in fractured rocks, 1999, Kaufmann G. , Braun J. ,
We study the large-scale evolution and flow in a fractured karst aquifer by means of a newly developed numerical method. A karst aquifer is discretized into a set of irregularly spaced nodal points, which are connected to their set of natural neighbors to simulate a network of interconnected conduits in two dimensions. The conduits are allowed to enlarge by solutional widening. The geometric flexibility of this method, along with a simplified model for the dissolution kinetics within the system water-carbon dioxide-calcite, enables us to study both laminar and turbulent flow in a karst aquifer during its early phase of evolution. A sensitivity analysis is conducted for parameters such as conduit diameter, hydraulic pressure differences, and recharge conditions along the surface of the aquifer and shows that passage evolution depends strongly on the recharge condition and the amount of water available. Under fixed hydraulic head boundary conditions an early single-passage system develops under laminar conditions and is transformed into a maze-like passage system after the onset of turbulence. Fixed recharge boundary conditions are more likely to result in a branchwork-like passage system, although the addition of distributed recharge may lead to a maze-like system of secondary passages

Runoff generation in karst catchments: multifractal analysis, 2004, Majone B. , Bellin A. , Borsato A. ,
Time series of hydrological and geochemical signals at two karst springs, located in the Dolomiti del Brenta region, near Trento, Italy, are used to infer how karst catchments work internally to generate runoff. The data analyzed include precipitation, spring flow and electric conductivity of the spring water. All the signals show the signature of multifractality but with different intermittency and non-stationarity. In particular, precipitation and spring flow are shown to have nearly the same degree of nonstationarity and intermittency, while electric conductivity, which mimics the travel time distribution of water in the karst system, is less intermittent and smoother than both spring flow and precipitations. We found that spring flow can be obtained from precipitation through fractional convolution with a power law transfer function. An important result of our study is that the probability distribution of travel times is inconsistent with the advection dispersion equation, while it supports the anomalous transport model. This result is in line with what was observed by Painter et al. [Geophys. Res. Lett. 29 (2002) 21.1] for transport in fractured rocks. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

Trends, prospects and challenges in quantifying flow and transport through fractured rocks, 2005, Neuman Shlomo P. ,

Karstification of aquifers interspersed with non-soluble rocks: From basic principles towards case studies, 2010, Romanov D. , Kaufmann G. , Hiller T.

We have developed a numerical model able to describe the karstification of aquifers in fractured rocks containing soluble (limestone or gypsum) and insoluble layers. When water is flowing along fractures crossing the soluble layers, it is able to dissolve the material there, to increase the aperture width of the conduit, and consequently to increase the local hydraulic conductivity. Depending on the thickness and the distribution of these layers, the dissolution can be active only for limited periods, or during the whole evolution time. Fractures located in insoluble layers do not change at all. We are interested in the integral effect of these local processes and study four simplified scenarios of karstification along a prominent wide conduit crossing a fractured limestone block. We keep the initial and the boundary conditions the same for all scenarios and vary only in the amount and the distribution of the soluble material. We demonstrate that aquifers in 100% limestone, without any insoluble layers, develop along areas with high hydraulic conductivities and high hydraulic gradients, creating channel like pathways. On the other hand aquifers containing soluble layers with limited thickness develop faster and exhibit diffuse patterns determined by the chemical properties of the rock. The second part of the paper is a step towards modeling of real karst systems. We present the evolution of an aquifer located in the vicinity of a large hydraulic structure. All initial and boundary conditions, except the amount and the distribution of the soluble rock, remain the same for all scenarios. As a material example for the bedrock, we chose Gipskeuper from an aquifer along the Birs river in Switzerland. This rock consists of soluble gypsum layers and insoluble clays and marls, with typical layer thickness in the range of millimeters to centimeters. The basic processes discussed in the first part of the paper remain valid. We demonstrate that large insoluble zones can impair the karstification process and even completely block it, while areas with thin soluble layers can provide a preferential pathway and decrease the evolution times considerably. Finally we show that the evolution of the leakage rates and the head distribution within the aquifer can sometimes reveal misleading information about the stage of karstification and the safeness of the dam. Our model can be used not only to study simplified geological settings and basic processes, but also to address some of the complications arising when modeling real aquifers.


A laboratory study of tracer tomography, 2013, Brauchler R. , Bhm G. , Leven P. , Dietrich C. , Sauter M.

A tracer tomographic laboratory study was performed with consolidated fractured rock in three-dimensional space. The investigated fractured sandstone sample was characterized by significant matrix permeability. The laboratory transport experiments were conducted using gas-flow and gas-tracer transport techniques that enable the generation of various flow-field patterns via adjustable boundary conditions within a short experimental time period. In total, 72 gas-tracer (helium) tests were performed by systematically changing the injection and monitoring configuration after each test. For the inversion of the tracer breakthrough curves an inversion scheme was applied, based on the transformation of the governing transport equation into a form of the eikonal equation. The reliability of the inversion results was assessed with singular value decomposition of the trajectory density matrix. The applied inversion technique allowed for the three-dimensional reconstruction of the interstitial velocity with a high resolution. The three-dimensional interstitial velocity distribution shows clearly that the transport is dominated by the matrix while the fractures show no apparent influence on the transport responses.


Initial conditions or emergence: What determines dissolution patterns in rough fractures?, 2015,

Dissolution of fractured rocks is often accompanied by the formation of highly localized flow paths. While the fluid flow follows existing fractures in the rock, these fissures do not, in general, open uniformly. Simulations and laboratory experiments have shown that distinct channels or “wormholes”develop within the fracture, from which a single highly localized flow path eventually emerges. The aim of the present work is to investigate how these emerging flow paths are influenced by the initial aperture field. We have simulated the dissolution of a single fracture starting from a spatially correlated aperture distribution. Our results indicate a surprising insensitivity of the evolving dissolution patterns and flow rates to the amplitude and correlation length characterizing the imposed aperture field. We connect the similarity in outcomes to the self-organization of the flow into a small number of wormholes, with the spacing determined of the longest wormholes. We have also investigated the effect of a localized region of increased aperture on the developing dissolution patterns. A competition was observed between the tendency of the high-permeability region to develop the dominant wormhole and the tendency of wormholes to spontaneously nucleate throughout the rest of the fracture. We consider the consequences of these results for the modeling of dissolution in fractured and porous rocks.


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