Infoscience

Thesis

Les circulations d'eau dans les massifs cristallins alpins et leurs relations avec les ouvrages souterrains

The present study has been achieved within the framework of the scientific program AQUALP, supported by the EVIAN Foundation. Its theme is the study of the hydrogeology of the Alpine crystalline. The AQUALP programme consists of two co-coordinated parts : while the "source" part, lead at the Savoy University, studies natural circulation towards springs, the "work" part, which concerns this study, has focused on the interaction between civil engineering works and underground waters. The approach adopted is that of a field study during which water inflows encountered in various Alpine underground works and replaced in their geological contexts were followed up as from the discharge, the physico-chemical and the isotopic chemistry point of view. A tracer test and numerical simulations of underground flows were also undertaken. Main results The summary of the hydrogeological data in the numerous existing underground works allowed to calculate, on the basis of simple analytical solutions, the distribution of the hydraulically conductivity of the massifs crossed. These results show that the deeper one goes the more the hydraulical conductivity decreases. They bring us to specify the thickness of the decompressed zone, i.e. about 500 m. This zone strongly influences the underground flow in these massifs. Presence of mica inhibits the hydraulical conductivity in conferring a more plastic comportment to the rocks during past tectonic phases. The temperature of the water inflows encountered is a complex function of the thickness of the overlying rock and the quantity of waters circulating in the massif. Therefore it constitutes a precious indicator, during the excavating of underground works, of the presence of possible more permeable sections in formations to come. A numerical simulation of such a case has been undertaken and shows the possibility of using this tool to improve the expectation of water inflow in the work. The temperature study as well as the application of the chalcedony geothermometer to the entire of the inflow studied has shown the existence of ascending flow systems, fed by precipitation. Waters circulating in the Alpine massifs have a chemical composition strongly influenced by the reservoir rock. Chemical analyses of major and trace elements have allowed to distinguish waters issued from the various petrographies encountered. One must first of all underline the complementarity of major and trace elements analyses. The discriminating power of these two types of analyses does not apply to the same type of rocks. The major structures hydraulically conductive in crystalline Alpine massifs have been defined. One can mainly quote isolated fractures, strongly fractured and tectonised zones, kakirite zones, the decompressed zone, the down-bending zone, contacts between distinctive hydrogeological units and large metasedimentary structures. Hydraulical and physico-chemical characteristics of waters associated to each type of defined structures have been determined. These structures are straightened and induce water circulation close to the vertical, from the surface towards the work. The infiltration zones of waters determined on the basis of the orientation of major structures generally coincides with the altitudes calculated on the basis of isotopic analyses of waters (0-18). Some anomalies have nevertheless been put into evidence. They are mainly relative to circulation in the decompressed zone or in overlying Quatemary beds. Relationship between surface waters (barrier lakes or rivers) and underground works have also been put in evidence on the basis of the interpretation of isotopic results. Numerous water inflows are poor in tritium and attest of the time of transit through to the work in the order of a number of decades, in relation with the weak permeability observed in depth. These waters are often rich in sodium, because of the alteration of silicates contained in rocks. More recent waters have been encountered in shallow depths, in the decompressed zone or in association with a great geological fault. The examples of the interaction between underground works and springs are systematically linked to important water inflows in the works either through a decompressed zone of the massif, or through a particularly transmissive zone connected with the surface. These examples show that in this fissured environment, extremely divided into compartments and anisotropic, the drying up of springs is not linked with the progressive lowering of a water table along side the work but at punctual and localized inflows. A conceptual model of the hydrogeology of the Alpine crystalline is proposed in this study. It is accompanied with an interaction model between a work and the natural middle. It must help the project manager to foresee the water inflows in underground works and to adopt the optimal solution to minimize the impact of the work on water resources.

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