Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Taucare M., Viguier B., Daniele L., Heuser G., Arancibia G., Leonardi V. (2020)

Connectivity of fractures and groundwater flows analyses into the Western Andean Front by means of a topological approach (Aconcagua Basin, Central Chile).

Revista : Hydrogeology Journal
Volumen : 28
Páginas : 2429–2438
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


The misunderstanding of hydrogeological processes together with the oversimplification of aquifer conceptual models result innumerous inaccuracies in the management of groundwater resources. In Central Chile (32–36°S), hydrogeological studies haveexclusively focused to alluvial aquifers in valleys (~15% of total area) and mountain-front zones remain considered as no-fluxboundary conditions. By a topological approach and an analysis of fractures, the hydrogeological potential of the WesternAndean Front along the N–S-oriented Pocuro Fault Zone (PFZ) in the Aconcagua Basin were determined. Perennial springs(23) show evidence of groundwater flows into the fractured Principal Cordillera. Topology allows for quantification of thedensity of connected fractures within the fault zone and its relationship with groundwater circulation. The study results highlighttwo areas where the density of fractures and connected nodes (Nc) is high (>2.4 km/km2, 2.5 Nc/km2). Both areas are topologically related to the main springs of the PFZ: Termas de Jahuel (discharge ~14.0 m3/h at 22 °C) and Termas El Corazón(discharge ~7.2 m3/h at 20 °C). Outcrop-scale mapping reveals that groundwater outflows from NW–SE fractures, which isconsistent with the preferential orientation of the fracture network (N30–60 W) within the PFZ. The results indicate that obliquebasement faults are discrete high-permeability structures conducting groundwater across the Western Andean Front from thePrincipal Cordillera up to adjacent alluvial aquifers (focused recharge). Therefore, the simplistic hydrogeological view of theWestern Andean Front (i.e. impervious limit) is partially erroneous.