The Marlborough Deep Wairau Aquifer sustainability review 2008 : isotopic indicators

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Morgenstern, U.; van der Raaij, R.W.; Trompetter, V.J.; McBeth, K. 2008 The Marlborough Deep Wairau Aquifer sustainability review 2008 : isotopic indicators. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2008/33 18 p.

Abstract: The Deep Wairau Aquifer (DWA) consists of several relatively thin water bearing layers at depths generally greater than 150 m separated by thick confining layers and was therefore thought to be relatively isolated from surface hydrological processes, with little pumping induced effects on spring flows and shallow aquifers. However, because the DWA partially underlies fully allocated shallower Southern Valleys Aquifers it is critical to understand the dynamics (recharge, flow) of the DWA. Recent aquifer testing revealed that the DWA is hydraulically linked to the Southern Valley Benmorven Aquifer and that most wells penetrating the DWA are hydraulically linked. The aquifers of the Wairau Plain are formed by a series of glacial and alluvial outwash deposits laid down by the Wairau River. Bore logs indicate that the aquifer contains thin water-bearing layers within the mixed strata. These layers come under artesian pressure towards the east. The Wairau Gravels are overlain by a sequence of glacial outwash and fluvial gravels interspersed with marine deposits. Immediately above the Wairau Gravels lies the Speargrass Formation consisting of poorly sorted glacial outwash gravels, sand and clay deposits. This formation has greater permeability than the Wairau Gravels. Above the Speargrass Formation lie highly permeable postglacial fluvial gravels, sand and silt deposits from the Wairau and tributary rivers known as the Rapaura Formation. Towards the coast, the alluvial gravels are overlain by marine and estuarine deposits of sand, silt and clay known as the Dillons Point Formation. Chemistry and isotope samples were analysed over time from various DWA wells to obtain information on changes in source and age of water with continued abstraction. All DWA water samples are tritium-free indicating that there is no young water influx yet intercepted by any of the sampled wells. Radiocarbon repeat measurements indicate that the water source is changing towards older water with progressive pumping. Chemical parameters and stable isotope data were plotted over mean residence time to determine qualitative hydrochemistry trends and to gain a better understanding of whether the samples follow a common trend and possibly have the same source or if samples are from isolated hydrogeologic systems with different sources. (auth/DG)