A method for the stochastic modeling of karstic systems accounting for geophysical data: an example of application in the region of Tulum, Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico) = Une méthode de modélisation stochastique d'un système karstique rendant compte de données géophysiques : un exemple d'application dans la région de Tulum, Péninsule du Yucatan (Mexique)

Vuilleumier, C. ; Borghi, A. ; Renard, P. ; Ottowitz, D. ; Schiller, A. ; Supper, R. ; Cornaton, F.

In: Hydrogeology Journal, 2013, vol. 21, no. 3, p. 529-544

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    The eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, contains one of the most developed karst systems in the world. This natural wonder is undergoing increasing pollution threat due to rapid economic development in the region of Tulum, together with a lack of wastewater treatment facilities. A preliminary numerical model has been developed to assess the vulnerability of the resource. Maps of explored caves have been completed using data from two airborne geophysical campaigns. These electromagnetic measurements allow for the mapping of unexplored karstic conduits. The completion of the network map is achieved through a stochastic pseudo-genetic karst simulator, previously developed but adapted as part of this study to account for the geophysical data. Together with the cave mapping by speleologists, the simulated networks are integrated into the finite-element flow-model mesh as pipe networks where turbulent flow is modeled. The calibration of the karstic network parameters (density, radius of the conduits) is conducted through a comparison with measured piezometric levels. Although the proposed model shows great uncertainty, it reproduces realistically the heterogeneous flow of the aquifer. Simulated velocities in conduits are greater than 1cm s−1, suggesting that the reinjection of Tulum wastewater constitutes a pollution risk for the nearby ecosystems