Hydrogeological interactions between fault zones and alluvial aquifers in regional flow systems

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The hydrological influence of fault zones in tectonic areas is usually difficult to depict from field data. Numerical simulation allows representation of such flow systems and an estimation of flow lines and rates. This paper reports on simulations of the groundwater flow in a range-and-basin area affected by a regional fault zone, which may drain or recharge an overlaying alluvial aquifer. Different hydraulic conductivity values for the range rocks, the fault-zone, and the sedimentary infill of the basin are considered, as well as different fault-zone widths and boundary conditions. Results show that upward and downward fluxes develop in the upper part of the fault zone, controlled by the action of the alluvial aquifer, influencing the recharge of the sedimentary basin. This paper shows the hydrological efficiency of fault zones as preferential flow; it also analyses the constraints that determine groundwater recharge to the surrounding basins. These results contribute to the understanding of hydrogeological dynamics in tectonic areas ​
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