Abstract

The regional spatial correlation structure of bulk horizontal hydraulic conductivity (Kb) estimated from published transmissivity data from 79 open boreholes in the fractured basalt aquifer of the eastern Snake River Plain was analyzed with geostatistical methods. The two-dimensional spatial correlation structure of ln Kb shows a pronounced 4:1 range anisotropy, with a maximum correlation range in the north-northwest–south-southeast direction of about 6 km. The maximum variogram range of ln Kb is similar to the mean length of flow groups exposed at the surface. The ln Kb range anisotropy is similar to the mean width/length ratio of late Quaternary and Holocene basalt lava flows and the orientations of the major volcanic structural features on the eastern Snake River Plain. The similarity between ln Kb correlation scales and basalt flow dimensions and between basalt flow orientations and correlation range anisotropy suggests that the spatial distribution of zones of high hydraulic conductivity may be controlled by the lateral dimensions, spatial distribution, and interconnection between highly permeable zones which are known to occur between lava flows within flow groups. If hydraulic conductivity and lithology are eventually shown to be cross correlative in this geologic setting, it may be possible to stochastically simulate hydraulic conductivity distributions, which are conditional on a knowledge of volcanic stratigraphy.

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