Subsurface heterogeneity in the geological and hydraulic properties of the hummocky Paris Moraine, Guelph, Ontario

Arnaud, Emmanuelle
McGill, Michael
Trapp, Andrew
Smith, James E.
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Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences

The advance and retreat of ice lobe margins of the Laurentide Ice Sheet formed moraines that are a prevalent feature throughout southwestern Ontario. In contrast to the well-studied stratified moraine complexes, recessional and end moraines, have largely been ignored in the context of hydrogeological studies. Recent urban growth has led to development pressures on these moraines, and a need to better understand their hydrogeology. This study presents data sets from the Paris Moraine near Guelph, Ontario to examine its geomorphology, internal composition and the corresponding hydraulic properties of these ice marginal features. The moraine’s geomorphic elements were mapped using high resolution GPS transects, aerial photograph analysis and ground truthing. Nine continuous sediment cores were recovered to determine the nature and distribution of subsurface sedimentary units and their relation to the regional stratigraphic framework. Cores were described in detail using standard sedimentological techniques and significant sediment heterogeneity was observed in cross sections. Grain size analyses of over 150 samples provide site-specific estimates of saturated hydraulic conductivity. In addition, saturated hydraulic conductivity was measured on 104 samples using the falling head permeameter method. This study found that different scales of sediment heterogeneity occur across the moraine and the associated till plain and outwash. In contrast, the hydraulic conductivity varies much less. It is expected that certain sedimentary units at specific depths will impact groundwater flow at the cm-100’s of m scale, which is significant in environmental site assessments or for understanding contaminant hydrogeological problems.

hummocky moraine, hydraulic conductivity, heterogeneity, hydrogeology, glacial sediments
Arnaud, E., McGill, M., Trapp, A., Smith, J.E. 2017. Subsurface heterogeneity in the geological and hydraulic properties of the hummocky Paris Moraine, Guelph, Ontario. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, Special issue on Quaternary geology of Southern Ontario and applications to groundwater understanding. DOI: 10.1139/cjes-2016-0161