New Insights into the Influence of Structural Controls Affecting Groundwater Flow and Storage Within an Ocean Island Volcano, Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The Humu’ula Groundwater Research Project was undertaken on the Island of Hawaii in an effort to characterize the hydrologic structures controlling groundwater movement and storage within Saddle region between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes. In 2013, the project drilled a 1764 m, continuously-cored, borehole from an elevation of 1946 m amsl near the center of the Saddle, and has now completed a second borehole at an elevation of 1645 m on the western edge of the Saddle. Although the stratigraphy of the rocks is similar, dominantly pahoehoe lava flows with somewhat fewer a’a lavas and occasional dike rock intervals, the hydrologic character of the formation in the latter is distinctly different from the former. Whereas the former test hole encountered a few high elevation perched aquifers that were underlain by an inferred regional, dike-impounded, water table at an elevation of 1390 m amsl, the latter bore encountered a sequence of confined aquifers with heads substantially higher than depth of entry. The shallowest of the confined aquifers was encountered at an elevation of 1340 m and showed a hydrostatic head of >160 m when the capping formation was breached. Deeper confined aquifers showed initial heads of > 400 m although none had heads sufficient to discharge at the surface. Most of the confined aquifers were associated with clay-rich ash beds that mantled the more permeable lavas however one of the deeper confined zones, that showed the highest head, was associated with a highly compacted breccia zone that has tentatively been ascribed to an explosive deposit. Chemical analysis of the clasts within this layer is underway to determine whether this deposit is associated with explosive activity of Mauna Kea or with another volcano on the island. Previous geophysical surveys have suggested that these confined aquifers may extend well down the leeward slopes of Mauna Kea. Evidence of multiple confining layers within the flanks of Mauna Kea suggest that its capacity for storage of groundwater is substantially higher than has previously been considered and may have implications for transport of recharge to the “basal” groundwater system on its coastal flanks. We will present the detailed stratigraphy of the borehole and isotopic and geochemical data on ground waters found in this region of Hawaii Island.