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Featured article from geoscience journal

Elsevier
Journal of Hydrology, 2011, Vol 398, Issue 3, p. 202-211
Karstification beneath dam-sites: From conceptual models to realistic scenarios
Abstract:

Dam-sites and reservoirs located above soluble rock are often damaged by increased leakage through the sub-surface within the life-time of the structure. The high hydraulic gradients driving the water through the fracture and fissure system of the bedrock have a strong impact on the aquifer evolution. The increased permeability, if not prevented, leads to an imminent danger of high leakage rates (breakthrough) as well. As a result, the structural safety of the dam-site itself is at risk. Past experience has shown that this may have large environmental and economical consequences.

For a better understanding of the evolution of karst aquifer systems in the vicinity of dam-sites, a three-dimensional conceptual model is presented. We show the evolution of the karst aquifer for simple three-dimensional dam-site setups. Keeping the symmetry and simplicity of the models we can relate our results to the two- and one-dimensional scenarios presented in the past. Implementing a statistical fracture network and topographic information to this basic setup we show that these complex three-dimensional properties of the real aquifers, have a significant influence on the karstification, and cannot always be addressed by two -and one-dimensional models.

Research highlights
- Three-dimensional karst evolution modeling of dam-sites. - Relating the 3D models to former 2D and 1D models. - Implementation of statistical fracture network and topography.