Groundwater resources evaluation case study via discrete fracture flow modeling

M. Wang, P. H.S.W. Kulatilake, B. B. Panda, M. L. Rucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is preparing to upgrade State Route 260 between Payson and Heber. It is estimated that a total of about one million cubic meters of water will be required for embankment construction during a period of about 84 months to upgrade the first 33.8 km of the highway. ADOT is investigating various sources of construction water for use in the highway improvement project, including groundwater resources along the highway corridor. A region known as the RV site, underlain by fractured granite, is located 12.9 km east of Payson. The site includes three springs, a creek and several wells. Several boreholes and observation wells were made to a maximum depth of 157 m to obtain fracture data and to conduct pumping tests with monitoring. Fracture data recorded by acoustic televiewer logs were used to build a fracture network model for the rock mass. Results of a 24-hour and a 7-day pumping tests were used to calibrate hydraulic parameters of a finite element discrete fracture fluid flow model considering the region as a heterogeneous, anisotropic, fractured medium. A 38-day multi-well pumping test was used to validate the calibrated numerical model. The calibrated model showed the capability to provide reasonably accurate predictions for new pumping tests conducted in the same well field. The validated model was then used to simulate pumping exceeding a 7 year period under different scenarios incorporating different sets of boundary conditions and different pumping rates at multi-wells, with and without recharge, to evaluate the yield of the aquifer and to assess the effect of long-term pumping on the environment. The results indicated that (a) the combined yield of the wells in the RV site is sufficient to meet the water demand for the ADOT highway project and (b) the water levels in the well field would decline between 3.0 and 7.6 m after one year of pumping and by 12.2 to over 30.5 m during the life of the project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-291
Number of pages25
JournalEngineering Geology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2001


  • Case study
  • Fractures
  • Hydrogeology
  • Numerical modeling
  • Pumping tests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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