Transmissivity variations in mudstones

MacDonald, Alan M. ORCID:; Kemp, Simon J. ORCID:; Davies, Jeff. 2005 Transmissivity variations in mudstones. Ground Water, 43 (2). 259-269.

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Many people in sub-Saharan Africa have to rely on meager water resources within mudstones for their only water supply. Although mudstones have been extensively researched for their low permeability behavior, little research has been undertaken to examine their ability to provide sustainable water supplies. To investigate the factors controlling the occurrence of usable ground water in mudstone environments, an area of Cretaceous mudstones in southeastern Nigeria was studied over a 3 yr period. Transmissivity (T) variations in a range of mudstone environments were studied. The investigations demonstrate that within the top 40 m of mudstones, transmissivity can be sufficient to develop village water supplies (T>1 m2/d). Transmissivity is controlled by two factors: low-grade metamorphism and the presence of other, subordinate, lithologies within the mudstones. Largely unaltered mudstones (early diagenetic zone), comprising mainly smectite clays, are mostly unfractured and have a low T of <0.1 m2/d. Mudstones that have undergone limited metamorphism (late diagenetic zone) comprise mixed layered illite/smectite clays, and ground water is found in widely spaced fracture zones (T>1 m2/d in large fracture zones; T <0.1 m2/d away from fracture zones). Mudstones that have been further altered and approach the anchizone comprise illite clays, are pervasively fractured, and have the highest transmissivity values (T>4 m2/d). Dolerite intrusions in unaltered, smectitic mudstones are highly fractured with transmissivity in the range of 1<T<60 m2/d. Thin limestone and sandstone layers can also enhance transmissivity sufficiently to provide community water supplies.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Groundwater Management
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Aquifer characterisation, Shale, Permeability, International development
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Related URLs:
Date made live: 18 Nov 2010 16:22 +0 (UTC)

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