Geophysical, geological and hydrogeological characterization of a tributary buried bedrock valley in southern Ontario

Steelman, Colby M.
Arnaud, Emmanuelle
Pehm, Pete
Parker, Beth L.
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Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences

Buried bedrock valleys infilled with Quaternary-aged sediment have the potential to become productive aquifers due to prevalent sand and gravel deposits often associated with these topographic lows. In areas where groundwater is drawn from the underlying bedrock aquifer, buried bedrock channels may significantly affect the spatial distribution of recharge and localized contaminant pathways. Therefore, understanding the form, distribution and the nature of Quaternary infill sediments within these buried bedrock river valleys, and their relationship to hydraulically-transmissive bedrock features is an important aspect of groundwater resource management. Here, we evaluate the effectiveness of electrical resistivity and seismic refraction collected over a partially urbanized 150 ha area with variable vegetation, roads, and structures, to map the spatial distribution of sediments and delineation of a channel segment associated with a regional bedrock valley. Electrical resistivity and seismic refraction was performed along 13 (covering ~11.6 km) and 7 transects (covering ~0.9 km), respectively, to map and characterize the bedrock surface morphology beneath a variable thickness of unconsolidated deposits. Three continuously cored holes and downhole geophysical logs, supplemented with four nearby water well records captured the in-channel as well as adjacent Quaternary stratigraphy (~15-40 m). Cores recorded multiple glacial till deposits and ice marginal processes associated with ice advances and retreats. Hydraulic transmissivity of the bedrock around the valley feature was evaluated using a FLUTe™ hydraulic transmissivity profiling technique. This study demonstrates the potential of combining several surface geophysical methods with sedimentological analysis of continuous cores and hydraulic data for characterizing tributary bedrock channel morphology and Quaternary infill at a scale relevant to localized studies of municipal production well recharge zones and contaminant transport and fate.

buried bedrock valley, electrical resistivity tomography, karst, water supply, Silurian dolostone
Steelman, C.M., Arnaud, E., Pehme, P. and Parker, B.L. 2017. Geophysical, geological and hydrogeological characterization of a tributary buried bedrock valley in southern Ontario, Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. doi: 10.1139/cjes-2016-0120