Propagation of pressure change through thick clay sequences: an example from Liverpool Plains, NSW, Australia

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Abstract
In-situ hydraulic conductivity and specific storage measurements are derived from an analysis of pore-water pressure changes in a nest of piezometers installed in a 40-m-thick succession of smectitic clay on the Liverpool Plains of northern New South Wales, Australia. The cumulative response to the rainfall events that typically occurs during winter or early spring is propagated through the clay with measurable loss of amplitude and increasing phase lag. Five major rainfall events occurred over the four years of detailed monitoring. The phase lag at the base of the clay varied between 49 and 72 days. Barometric efficiency (BE) measurements for the clay sequence (BE = 0.07) and the underlying confined aquifer (BE = 0.10) were used, with a known porosity of 0.567, to derive specific storage values of 3.7x10(-5) and 6.8x10(-6) m(-1) respectively. Vertical hydraulic conductivity (K-v) of the clay sequence derived from observed amplitude and phase changes, resulted in an average value of 2.8x10(-9) m/s. These in-situ-derived values indicate that previous estimates of vertical hydraulic conductivity of the clays, made on core samples, are unrealistically high. The instantaneous response to individual rainfall events transmitted through the clay succession (tidal efficiency of 0.93) is also described.
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Timms, Wendy
Acworth, Richard
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Publication Year
2005
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Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty