Using impacts of deep-level mining to research karst hydrology—a Darcy-based approach to predict the future of dried-up dolomitic springs in the Far West Rand goldfield (South Africa). Part 2: predicting inter-compartmental flow and final groundwater tabl
Environmental Earth Sciences
North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa; Mine Water Re-Search Group, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa
Some of the world’s deepest goldmines operate below dolomitic karst aquifers in the Far West Rand (FWR) goldfield, South Africa. Associated impacts include the continuous dewatering of karst aquifers for over six decades and irreversible changes of the hydrogeological setting. Affecting an area of approximately 400 km2 by drawing down the water table up to 700 m, these impacts, and the large amounts of data generated in the process, are used as unique research opportunities to better understand the complex karst hydrology. The focus of this study is on predicting final water table elevations in rewatered aquifers after mining ceases taking the fact that mines hydraulically linked previously disconnected aquifers into account. While part 1 of this series develops the conceptual model, this second part utilises large sets of pertinent data to calculate actual flow rates for predicting the fate of dried up springs after mine closure. Following a Darcy-based approach first applied by Swart et al. (Environ Geol 44:751–770, 2003a) it is not only predicted that the springs will flow again but also shown that linear relationships exist between flow rates through a combined system of karst-fractured aquifers overlying the mine void and the associated hydraulic head driving them. This suggests that—at this scale—porous media-based equations can be meaningfully used to predict flow in non-porous media. © 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Aquifers; Dewatering; Flow rate; Forecasting; Gold; Groundwater resources; Landforms; Plant shutdowns; Porous materials; Springs (water); Deep-level mining; Dewatered dolomitic compartments; Hydrogeological settings; Karst springs; Large amounts of data; Re-watering; Research opportunities; Water table elevation; Hydrogeology; closure; dewatering; hydraulic head; karst; karst hydrology; mining; water flow; water table; South Africa