Faculté des sciences

Using tracer tests and hydrological observations to evaluate effects of tunnel drainage on groundwater and surface waters in the Northern Apennines (Italy)

Vincenzi, Valentina ; Gargini, Alessandro ; Goldscheider, Nicola

In: Hydrogeology Journal, 2009, vol. 17, no. 1, p. 135-150

The impact of a railway tunnel on groundwater and surface waters in the Northern Apennines (Italy) was demonstrated and characterised by multi-tracer tests and hydrological observations. The 15-km-long Firenzuola tunnel crosses turbidite marls and sandstones previously not considered as aquifers. During the drilling, water inrushes occurred at fracture zones, and the tunnel still continues to... Plus

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    Summary
    The impact of a railway tunnel on groundwater and surface waters in the Northern Apennines (Italy) was demonstrated and characterised by multi-tracer tests and hydrological observations. The 15-km-long Firenzuola tunnel crosses turbidite marls and sandstones previously not considered as aquifers. During the drilling, water inrushes occurred at fracture zones, and the tunnel still continues to drain the aquifer. The water table dropped below the level of the valleys, and gaining streams transformed into losing streams or ran completely dry, as did many springs, causing severe damage to the aquatic fauna and other elements of the ecosystem. Two multi-tracer tests, each using uranine and sulforhodamine G, were carried out in two impacted catchments in order to confirm and quantify the stream–aquifer–tunnel interrelations. The results proved connection between losing streams and numerous water inlets in the tunnel, with maximum linear distances of 1.4 km and velocities up to 135 m/d. Several of the demonstrated flowpaths pass under previous groundwater divides (mountain ridges), proving that the tunnel has completely modified the regional flow system. Water balance estimations demonstrate that the observed water losses cannot be explained by climate change but can largely be attributed to the tunnel drainage.