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Numerical Modeling of Subsurface Fluid Flow in the Culpeper
  Basin, Virginia: Patrick Carr

Project Title: Numerical Modeling of Subsurface Fluid Flow in the Culpeper Basin, Virginia
Mendenhall Fellow: Patrick Carr, (703) 648-6772,
Duty Station: Reston, Virginia
Start Date: August 29, 2003
Education: Ph.D. (Geological Sciences), Cornell University, 2003
Research Advisor: Michael Ryan, (703) 648-6770,
  Patrick Carr

Project Description: The Culpeper Basin in northern Virginia and Maryland typifies the Mesozoic half-graben rift basins which line the eastern coast of the United States and include the Gettysburg, Newark, and Hartford basins. Basin-scale fluid flow through the highly permeable Triassic and Jurassic sediments is compartmentalized by less permeable Jurassic diabase units intruded as dikes, sills, and lopoliths. We are constructing two- and three-dimensional numerical models of porous media and fracture flow to investigate regional subsurface flow and chemical alteration in these basins in two stages.

First, heuristic models varying intrusion geometry will parameterize the effect of en echelon dike spacing and sill and lopolith form, depth, and tilt on a regional flow field. Additional simulations which include intrusion cooling by pore water will delineate paleo-flow channels (which control contemporary flow) and may show a relation to copper and other mineralization. Second, basin-scale simulations will relate contemporary flow to intrusive features which are observable with aeromagnetic, Bouger gravity, and magnetotelluric surveys and borehole geophysics. The conceptual and numerical models developed will provide new insight into the hydrogeologic processes and pathways used in subsurface fluid storage and migration. These models will develop new science and quantitative applied tools for use in water needs, water quality assessment, and contaminant abatement.

Digital elevation model of the Culpeper Basin   Digital elevation model of the Culpeper Basin, which is outlined in white. The smaller basin to the southwest in the Barboursville Basin.

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Last modified: 16:08:26 Thu 13 Dec 2012