The Permeability of the Elkhorn Fault Zone, South Park, Colorado Journal Article uri icon



  • AbstractThe purposes of this study are to use both field and modeling approaches to characterize the permeability of a fault and to assess the role of the fault on regional ground water flow. The study subject is the Elkhorn fault, a low‐angle reverse fault that brings Precambrian crystalline rocks over the sediments of Colorado's South Park Basin. The fault is hypothesized to act as a low‐permeability barrier to flow, restricting interaction between the crystalline aquifer and the basin sediments. To test this hypothesis and to better predict the permeability structure of the fault, we synthesized geologic data to create a geologic model of the fault, conducted aquifer tests to estimate the hydrogeologic properties of the fault zone, and used ground water modeling to test the influence of a range of hydraulic properties for the fault zone on ground water flow in the region.Our study suggests that the fault is a low‐permeability feature. Estimated heads are best matched to observations by modeling the fault as a 10‐foot‐thick interval of low‐permeability fault gouge. Steady‐state flow models show that much of the flow in the study area is topographically driven near land surface. Flow rates decrease with depth in the aquifers. In the footwall, ground water moves updip in the Michigan‐San Isabel syncline to discharge in the South Park Basin. In the hanging wall, ground water moves east to a regional ground water divide. Sensitivity analyses indicate that hydraulic heads are most sensitive to changes in hydraulic conductivity and recharge.

publication date

  • May 1, 2003

has restriction

  • closed

Date in CU Experts

  • June 30, 2014 1:07 AM

Full Author List

  • Marler J; Ge S

author count

  • 2

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0017-467X

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1745-6584

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 321

end page

  • 332


  • 41


  • 3