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Amodel for underpressure development in a glacial valley, an example from Adventdalen,SvalbardNormal access

Authors: M. Wangen, A. Souche and H. Johansen
Journal name: Basin Research
Issue: Vol 28, No 6, December 2016 pp. 752 - 769
DOI: 10.1111/bre.12130
Organisations: Wiley
Language: English
Info: Article, PDF ( 1.19Mb )

The underpressure observed in the glacial valley Adventdalen at Svalbard is studied numerically with a basin model and analytically with a compartment model. The pressure equation used in the basin model, which accounts for underpressure generation, is derived from mass conservation of pore fluid and solid, in addition to constitutive equations. The compartment model is derived as a similar pressure equation, which is based on a simplified representation of the basin geometry. It is used to derive analytical expressions for the underpressure (overpressure) from a series of unloading (loading) intervals. The compartment model gives a characteristic time for underpressure generation of each interval, which tells when the pressure state is transient or stationary. The transient pressure is linear in time for short-time spans compared to the characteristic time, and then it is proportional to the weight removed from the surface. We compare different contributions to the underpressure generation and find that porosity rebound from unloading is more important than the decompression of the pore fluid during unloading and the thermal contraction of the pore fluid during cooling of the subsurface. Our modelling shows that the unloading from the last deglaciation can explain the present day underpressure. The basin model simulates the subsurface pressure resulting from erosion and unloading in addition to the fluid flow driven by the topography. Basin modelling indicates that the mountains surrounding the valley are more important for the topographic-driven flow in the aquifer than the recharging in the neighbour valley. The compartment model turns out to be useful to estimate the orders of magnitude for system properties like seal and aquifer permeabilities and decompaction coefficients, despite its geometric simplicity. We estimate that the DeGeerdalen aquifer cannot have a permeability that is higher than 1 . 10 -18 m2, as otherwise, the fluid flow in the aquifer becomes dominated by topographic-driven flow. The upper value for the seal permeability is estimated to be 1 . 10 -20 m2, as higher values preclude the generation and preservation of underpressure. The porosity rebound is estimated to be <0.1% during the last deglaciation using a decompaction coefficient ar = 1 . 10 -9 Pa -1.

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