Modeling Multiscale Heterogeneity and Aquifer Interconnectivity

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A number of methods involving indicator geostatistics were combined in a methodology for characterizing and modeling multiscale heterogeneity. The methodology circumvents sources of bias common in data from borehole logs. We applied this methodology to the complex heterogeneity within a regional system of buried valley aquifers, which occurs in the western glaciated plains of North America and includes the Spiritwood Aquifer. The region is conceptualized as having a hierarchical organization with three facies assemblage types (large-scale heterogeneity) and two facies types within each assemblage (small-scale heterogeneity). We statistically characterized the sedimentary architecture at both scales, formulated indicator correlation models from those characterizations, and used the models to simulate the architecture in a multiscale realization. We focused on the interconnectivity of units creating higher-permeability pathways. Higher-permeability pathways span the realization even though the proportion of higher-permeability facies is less than the percolation threshold. Thus, geologic structures as represented in the indicator correlation models create interconnectivity above that which would occur if the higher-permeability facies were randomly placed. This amount of interconnection among higher-permeability facies within the multiscale realization is consistent with that suggested in prior hydraulic and geochemical studies of the regional system.