Characterisation of fracture network and groundwater preferential flow path in the Table Mountain Group (TMG) sandstones, South Africa
Characterisation of fractured rocks and evaluation of fracture connectivity are essential for the study of subsurface flow and transport in fractured rock aquifers. In this study, we use a new method to present fracture networks and analyse the connectivity of the fractures, based on the technique of randomly-generated realisations. The application of the method aims to provide more detailed insights into the flow path and dynamics for sustainable utilisation of groundwater in the Table Mountain Group (TMG) aquifers, South Africa. Focusing on a representative wellfield in the TMG, the interpretation and integration of fracture data derived from field measurements, existing geological maps and remotely-sensed imagery, and observed responses of hydraulic tests, led to the development of a conceptual model for fracture network characterisation, which forms the basis of fracture connectivity analysis. The result shows that the a dominant number of the interconnected fractures are in the form of separated fracture clusters (networks) which is considered to be a common connectivity pattern in the TMG rocks and alike. The result also suggests that the connectivity pattern is collectively dependent on such factors as orientation, length, and density of fractures and implies that in a study domain only a small part of the fractures are responsible for flow circulation.
Keywords: fractured rock aquifer, conceptual model, preferential flow path, Table Mountain Group