Hydrogeology of Montserrat review and new insights

Brioch Hemmings*, Fiona Whitaker, Joachim Gottsmann, Andrew Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Study region: The tropical, active volcanic arc island of Montserrat, Lesser Antilles, Caribbean. Study focus: New insights into hydrological recharge distribution, measurements of aquifer permeability, and geological and hydrological field observations from Montserrat are combined with a review of the current understanding of volcanic island hydrology. The aim is to begin to develop a conceptual model for the hydrology of Montserrat, and to inform and stimulate further investigation into the hydrology of volcanic arc islands, by combining a review of the current understanding of essential components of the hydrological system with fresh analysis of existing data, and new observations, data collection and analysis. This study provides new insights into hydrological recharge distribution, measurements of aquifer permeability, and geological and hydrological field observations from Montserrat. New hydrological insights for the region: A new groundwater recharge model predicts whole island recharge of 266mm/year, between 10% and 20% of annual rainfall. Core scale permeability tests reveal ranges from 10-14 to 10-12m2 for volcaniclastic rocks with coarse matrix, to a minimum of 10-18m2 for andesitic lavas and volcaniclastics with fine or altered matrix. Analysis of historical pumping tests on aquifers in reworked, channel and alluvial sediment indicate permeabilities ~10-10m2. Springs at elevations between 200 and 400m above mean sea level on Centre Hills currently discharge over 45L/s. High discharge require a reasonably laterally continuous low permeability body. Contrasting conceptual models are presented to illustrate two potential hydrogeological scenarios. New field observations also reveal systematic spatial variations in spring water temperature and specific electrical conductivity indicating that meteoric waters supplying the springs are mixed with a deeper groundwater source at some sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Hydrology: Regional Studies
Volume3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015

Keywords

  • Island hydrogeology
  • Permeability
  • Recharge
  • Springs
  • Volcanic island
  • Volcaniclastic

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