Abstract

The Paskapoo Formation of southern Alberta supports more groundwater wells than any other aquifer system in the Canadian Prairies. Located in a region of rapid population growth and straddling watersheds where no new surface water licenses are available, this aquifer system is under increasing pressure to provide water supply. The Paskapoo Formation represents a foreland deposit of a siltstone- and mudstone-dominated fluvial system. The system is highly heterogeneous with broad ranges in physical properties that impact groundwater production. High-porosity coarse-grained channel sandstone can provide productive wells, whereas thin and fractured sands and siltstones are low producers. The basal Haynes Member and western portion of the Paskpaoo Formation have higher sandstone volumes than other portions of the system. Fracture density shows a strong inverse relationship to bed thickness, such that fracture flow becomes more important for thinner sandstone beds. There is no regional-scale flow system associated with the Paskapoo Formation; rather it is dominated by local-scale recharge processes. The geochemistry of Paskapoo Formation groundwater is largely controlled by the variable composition of immediately overlying glacial deposits.

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