Faculté des sciences

The influence of paleoclimatic events on the functioning of an alpine thermal system (France): the contribution of hydrodynamic–thermal modeling

Gallino, Stéphanie ; Josnin, Jean-Yves ; Dzikowski, Marc ; Cornaton, Fabien ; Gasquet, Dominique

In: Hydrogeology Journal, 2009, vol. 17, no. 8, p. 1887-1900

Numerical models of the Aix-les-Bains thermal aquifer (France) were used to investigate the influence of Quaternary paleoclimatic events on the current thermal state of the groundwater. Initial numerical tests were successful in that present-day fluid flows (heads and flow rates) and the resulting velocities were compatible with residence time data. Water flowing through an aquifer cools the rock... Plus

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    Summary
    Numerical models of the Aix-les-Bains thermal aquifer (France) were used to investigate the influence of Quaternary paleoclimatic events on the current thermal state of the groundwater. Initial numerical tests were successful in that present-day fluid flows (heads and flow rates) and the resulting velocities were compatible with residence time data. Water flowing through an aquifer cools the rock mass; therefore, the rate of water flow governs the outlets temperature. For the Aix-les-Bains aquifer, applying present-day flow rates to the entire history of the aquifer leads to much more substantial cooling of the rock mass than is indicated by the outlets temperature (i.e. present-day flow rates are 10 times too high). This suggests that the aquifer may have gone through alternating functioning phases, during which the rock mass cooled, and blocked phases, during which the aquifer reheated. Other results indicate that the main parameters affecting thermal behavior during a functioning phase are the total inflow volume, rather than individual inflow rates, and the initial heat field. As phenomena linked to glaciation can lead to the blocking of infiltration zones and aquifer outlets, the findings suggest that the hypothesis of intermittent aquifer functioning related to glaciations is compatible with the current thermal field.